United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (NUREG-1437 Vol. 1)


8. Alternatives to License Renewal 

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8.1 Introduction

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) environmental review regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (10 CFR Part 51) require that the NRC consider all reasonable alternatives to a proposed action before acting on a proposal, including consideration of the no-action alternative. The intent of such a consideration is to enable the agency to consider the relative environmental consequences of an action given the environmental consequences of other activities that also meet the purpose of the action, as well as the environmental consequences of taking no action at all. The information in this chapter does not constitute NRC's final consideration of alternatives to license renewal. Therefore, the rule accompanying this Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) does not contain any conclusions regarding the environmental impact or acceptability of alternatives to license renewal. Accordingly, the NRC will conduct a full analysis of alternatives at individual license renewal reviews. NRC expects that information contained in this chapter will be used in the analysis of alternatives for the supplemental environmental impact statements prepared for individual license renewals. As defined in Chapter 1, the proposed action is the granting of a renewed license. Additionally, the purpose of such a proposal is to provide an option that allows for power generation capability beyond the term of a current nuclear power plant operating license in order to meet future system generating needs as such needs may be determined by state, utility, and, where authorized, federal (other than NRC) decision makers. This chapter examines the potential environmental impacts associated with denying a renewed license (i.e., the no action alternative); the potential environmental impacts from electric generating sources other than nuclear license renewal; the potential impacts from instituting additional conservation resources to reduce the total demand for power; and the potential impacts from power imports.

The no-action alternative is the denial of a renewed license. In general, if a renewed license were denied, a plant would be decommissioned and other electric generating sources would be pursued if power were still needed. It is important to note that NRC's consideration of the no-action alternative does not involve the determination of whether any power is needed or should be generated. The decision to generate power and the determination of how much power is needed are at the discretion of state and utility officials.

While many methods are available for generating electricity, and a huge number of combinations or mixes can be assimilated to meet a defined generating requirement, such expansive consideration would be too unwieldy to perform given the purposes of this analysis. Therefore, NRC has determined that a reasonable set of alternatives should be limited to analysis of single, discrete electric generation sources and only electric generation sources that are technically feasible and commercially viable.

To generate this reasonable set of alternatives, NRC included commonly known generation technologies and consulted various state energy plans to identify the alternative generation sources typically being considered by state authorities across the country. From this review, NRC has established a reasonable set of alternatives to be examined in this chapter. These alternatives include wind energy, photovoltaic (PV) cells, solar thermal energy, hydroelectricity, geothermal energy, incineration of wood waste and municipal solid waste (MSW), energy crops, coal, natural gas, oil, advanced light water reactors (LWRs), and delayed retirement of existing non-nuclear plants. NRC has considered these alternatives pursuant to its statutory responsibility under NEPA. NRC's analysis of these issues in no way preempts or displaces state authority to consider and make decisions regarding energy planning issues.

This chapter also includes a discussion of conservation and power import alternatives. Although these alternatives do not represent discrete power generation sources, they represent options that states and utilities may use to reduce their need for power generation capability. In addition, energy conservation and power imports are possible consequences of the no-action alternative. While these two alternatives are not options that fulfill the stated purpose and need of the proposed action per se (i.e., options that provide power generation capability), they nevertheless are considered in this chapter because they are important tools available to energy planners in managing need for power and generating capacity.

The potential environmental impacts evaluated include land use, ecology, aesthetics, water quality, air quality, solid waste, human health, socioeconomics, and culture. These impacts are addressed in terms of construction impacts and operational impacts (Tables 8.1 and 8.2 , respectively). This chapter occasionally mentions economic costs of particular alternatives for descriptive purposes; they do not provide a basis for an NRC decision on license renewal. In addition such economic costs may change prior to specific license renewal decisions as improvements occur to particular technologies. Additionally, this chapter discusses the relative construction and operating costs of various technologies where available.


8.2 Environmental Impacts of the No-Action Alternative

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As discussed in the introduction, the no-action alternative is denial of a renewed license. Denial of a renewed license as a power generating capability may lead to a variety of potential outcomes. In some cases, denial may lead to the selection of other electric generating sources to meet energy demands as determined by appropriate state and utility officials. In other cases, denial may lead to conservation measures and/or decisions to import power. In addition, denial may result in a combination of these different outcomes. Therefore, the environmental impacts of such resulting alternatives would be included as the environmental impacts of the no-action alternative. Additionally, a denial of a renewed license would lead to facility decommissioning and its associated impacts; these impacts would also represent impacts of the no-action alternative.

The environmental impacts expected from decommissioning are analyzed in NUREG-0586, Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement of Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities (1988). Consequently, NUREG-0586 represents some of the environmental impacts associated with denial of a renewed license. The analysis in Section 8.3 is equally applicable to the no-action alternative in that the alternatives analyzed in this section are all possible actions resulting from denial of a renewed license. Therefore, Section 8.3 represents additional impacts of the no-action alternative.


8.3 Environmental Impacts of Alternative Energy Sources

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This section describes the technologies and evaluates the environmental impacts of 13 energy supply or demand alternatives identified by NRC as capable of satisfying the purpose and need of the proposed action [i.e., to provide an option that allows for power generation capability beyond the term of a current nuclear power plant operating license to meet future system generating needs as such needs may be determined by state, utility, and, where authorized, federal (other than NRC) decision makers]. The technologies were selected because they correspond with those generally considered in state energy plans as potential generating technologies, or they were proposed as alternatives to nuclear license renewal in comments to the Draft GEIS. Many of these technologies differ dramatically from nuclear, and it is important to evaluate them using a consistent standard. A reference generating capacity of 1000 MW(e) is used in evaluating environmental impacts, because this is the approximate generating capacity of many nuclear plants.

The section evaluates impacts that could occur during construction (Table 8.1) or operation (Table 8.2) of each alternative technology. Environmental resources considered include land use, ecology, aesthetics, water quality, air quality, human health, socioeconomics, and cultural resources. The tables provide more detailed information, and the text highlights the more important impacts. References are omitted in the text when they are included in the impact tables.

License renewal decisions may vary considerably among states and utilities based on numerous factors, of which environmental factors are but one set. These decisions may be reached by utilities and states prior to NRC involvement. NRC staff evaluated the process used by 10 states with nuclear power plants to decide which electricity supply and demand options to implement. (NRC examined state energy plans of California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.) NRC determined that integrated resource planning in some form is used in almost all of these states. Nuclear technology and license renewal are not emphasized in most of these plans, which are developed by either state energy offices or state public service commissions. It is apparent in the plans that nuclear generating plants submitted for license renewal would be required to demonstrate the overall benefits of license renewal over alternative technologies before states would approve renewal. The options would include large, central generating stations powered by nonrenewable sources of energy, probably coal or natural gas, or advanced technologies powered by those same fuels. Some states not enamored of conventional nuclear power may be amenable to considering advanced nuclear technologies. Renewable energy sources have the potential to replace at least some of the generating capacity lost through decommissioning nuclear plants. Solar thermal energy, PV cells, wind energy, hydroelectricity, energy crops, and incineration of MSW and wood waste have some potential in most states surveyed. Geothermal energy has potential in states like California where the resource is prevalent.

Besides sources of power generation, other alternatives are mentioned in state energy plans. Demand-side management (DSM) is viewed in every state as a means to help meet electricity forecasts. Other alternatives include end-use conservation and purchases of power from other utility systems in the United States, Canada, or Mexico. While these two alternatives are not options that fulfill the stated purpose and need of the proposed action per se (i.e., options that provide power generation capability), they nevertheless are considered in this section because they are important tools available to energy planners in managing needs for power and generating capacity.

Every technology discussed in this section could generate power in much smaller facilities than 1000 MW(e) in dispersed locations throughout a utility's service area. Typically, conservation or demand-side alternatives and renewable technologies lend themselves best to relatively small facilities, whereas conventional, nonrenewable technologies are suited more for large central generating stations. Numerous exceptions to these generalizations exist or are feasible. Thus, multiple alternatives could be selected to replace a single nuclear plant. For example, a utility and state public utility commission could agree that a combination of 500 MW(e) of conventional or advanced-technology coal, 100 MW(e) of conservation, 100 MW(e) of purchased power, 50 MW(e) of wind power, 50 MW(e) of MSW combustion, and 200 MW(e) of combined-cycle-generation would be the preferred set of alternatives to replace a single nuclear plant. This siting scenario would be expected to diffuse over a wider area the construction and operational impacts otherwise expected from a single 1000-MW(e) facility. It also could be feasible to replace a nuclear plant with an equal amount of capacity from a single technology sited in a dispersed fashion. The types and general magnitude of environmental impacts would be about the same as for a central generating facility using that technology, but impacts would be dispersed in smaller concentrations over a wider area.

The following discussion is intended to suggest generic impacts that could occur from each technology as well as approximations of the magnitude of those impacts. In addition, this discussion is intended to address the reasonably foreseeable impacts of the various alternatives and does not attempt to address impacts that are remote or speculative. In the cases of conservation and renewable technologies, where there are no current equivalents to 1000-MW(e) plants, the impact data are less reliable than for nonrenewable technologies. The GEIS depends on data gathered from many studies, and the data may not always be comparable among technologies.

8.3.1 Wind

Of the approximately 33,000 quads of wind resources available annually in the coterminous United States, only about 170 quads per year can be accessed with current technology, and only about 1/6 quad per year can currently be used cost-effectively to generate electricity (DOE/EIA-0561). Wind speeds of at least 21 km/h (13 miles/h) are considered necessary for generating electricity. As shown in Figure 8.1, regions with such speeds include the Great Plains, the West, coastal areas, and parts of the Appalachians (DOE/EIA-0561).

The average annual capacity factor (i.e., the proportion of actual generation to potential generation at 100 percent capacity utilization) is estimated at 21 percent in 1995 and 29 percent in 2010. This relatively low capacity, compared with current baseload technologies, results from the high degree of intermittency of wind energy in many locations (DOE/EIA-0561). Current energy storage technologies are too expensive to permit wind power plants to serve as large baseload plants. The inability to increase the capacity factors of wind power makes the technology an inappropriate choice for baseload power (Johansson et al. 1993)

In 1992, wind provided 1676 MW(e) of electric generating capacity, produced mostly in California by nonutility generators (Hamrin and Rader 1993). Windfarms in areas around the Altamont Pass, the Tehachapi Mountains, and the San Gorgino Pass have more than 15,000 wind turbines (Pace 1991). The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the contribution of wind power will rise to 3600 MW(e) in 2000 and 6300 MW(e) in 2010, all of which would be generated by nonutilities (DOE/EIA-0561).

A recent survey of utilities conducted by UDI/McGraw-Hill indicated that no utilities have announced plans to construct 25 MW(e) or larger wind power plants in the foreseeable future, although some utilities may have unpublished plans (Bergesen 1994). Wind technology can be advanced with many small improvements, as well as larger ones such as development of lighter, stronger blade materials; improved gearing to capture a greater portion of useful wind velocities; improved understanding of wind patterns and siting configurations for wind turbines at a site; and improved electrical storage capabilities (SERI/TP-260-3674).

Wind energy is expected to require the use of approximately 61,000 ha (150,000 acres) or 610 square km (about 235 square miles) of land to generate 1000 MW(e) of power (see Table 8.1 for construction impacts and references). This large land requirement, even in dispersed sites, would eliminate any possibility of co-locating a wind energy facility with a retired nuclear plant, thereby pointing to the need for greenfield siting (siting on undeveloped land). The relatively low capacity factor of wind power means that it would operate less frequently at full power than nuclear, but the impacts associated with land use would still occur. The earth-moving that might be required to clear such a large amount of land would destroy much of the natural environment in affected areas (e.g., coastal, mountainous, or plains), where wind velocities are highest. Erosion and sedimentation, while controllable, would still occur and would adversely affect land and water resources. The visual impact of such extended land clearing would be quite

Figure 8.1 U.S. wind energy resources (contiguous states, winds 13 miles per hour or greater).
Source: Adapted from DOE/EIA-0561.

noticeable and would be a negative aesthetic consequence. Short-term air quality impacts from fugitive dust and equipment exhaust would occur with such extensive activities, and considerable vegetation debris could require disposal. Disturbance of such a large amount of land likely would reveal cultural resources that would require protection. Each of these site impacts would be magnified because of the new transmission lines that are almost always required for greenfield sites. Agricultural land could also be committed to the siting of wind energy facilities in some areas. Adverse impacts could still occur where land is taken out of production, but the acreage lost would likely be less than with natural environments.

The projected impacts of operating wind energy facilities are less than those expected from construction (see Table 8.2 for operational impacts and references). The same amount of land would still be committed to wind generation, but the machines would occupy less than 10 percent of it, freeing up most of the remainder for agricultural or some other compatible use. The aesthetic impact of several thousand wind turbines over a large area likely would strike many observers as obtrusive. The noise from such equipment likely would reinforce these negative opinions. Birds are likely to collide with the turbines, and wind energy developers should consider migration areas and nesting locations when sites for wind energy facilities are selected. In terms of positive environmental impacts, wind power plants would have little effect on water and air quality and would generate very little waste. Human health, except for a potential small number of occupational injuries, would not be affected by operations.

8.3.2 Photovoltaic Cells

PV cells, solid-state devices composed of a thin layer of semi-conductor material (usually single-crystal silicon), convert sunlight directly into electricity. Groups of cells that are mounted on a rigid plate and interconnected to form PV modules have a peak generating capacity of 50 W each (DOE/EH-0077). Usually, groups of modules are permanently attached to a frame and interconnected to form PV arrays or power systems. Power production is proportional to the amount of solar radiation received in a specific geographic area.

The most promising geographic area for the expansion of PV systems is the West; the Midwest and South have some potential (Figure 8.2).

PV power is produced intermittently because solar cells generate electricity only when sunlight is available. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners indicates an estimated capacity factor of 25 percent (Hamrin and Rader 1993). The largest utility PV system in the United States was built in 1984 on Carrisa Plain in central California by ARCO Solar at a site owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (Firor et al. 1993). Until it was dismantled in 1990, it generated 6.5 MW(e) of peak power. Thirty utilities were experimenting with small, grid-connected PV systems as of 1991 (Firor et al. 1993). Use of PV cells for baseload capacity requires very large energy storage devices, such as pumped hydro facilities, batteries, or compressed air chambers. Currently available energy storage devices are too expensive to store sufficient electricity to meet the baseload generating requirements. Thus, while the resource is plentiful, the reserves that

Figure 8.2 Solar resource availability: annual average daily direct normal solar radiation.
Source: Adapted from DOE/EIA-0561.

currently can be tapped economically for generating electricity in plants of appreciable size are limited.

The high cost of PV systems has been the primary impediment to their more extensive use. These high costs reflect the technical barriers that PV technology must overcome to be competitive. Improvements such as more effective concentrators, use of more easily produced thin-film PV cells rather than silicon cells, and lower module costs could play some part in reducing PV costs. Energy storage technology must become considerably less expensive to enable intermittent technologies like PV to provide reliable electricity. EIA projects that almost no additional PV generating capacity will be added to the electricity grid by 2010, its longest-term forecast (DOE/EIA-0561).

Construction impacts to several resources would be substantial from building a 1000-MW(e) PV facility either at a single site or at numerous smaller dispersed sites. The large land requirement would rule out co-locating a PV facility with an existing nuclear plant, which requires far less land. In addition to these new land requirements, additional land would be required for new transmission lines. No PV plant of this size currently exists, and impacts must be inferred from smaller PV facilities. It is estimated that at least 14,000 ha (35,000 acres) or about 130 km2 (50 square miles), either at a single site or at multiple sites, would be needed in areas optimal for PV technology to be able to generate as much as 1000 MW(e) of power.Clearing and grading 14,000 ha (35,000 acres) would largely destroy the previous natural or agricultural environment for the life of the facility, with resulting potential impacts to any threatened and endangered species and to aesthetic qualities of the area. Such construction likely would create erosion and resulting stream sedimentation problems. Considerable vegetation debris probably would need to be disposed of as well, which could create short-term air quality problems if it were disposed of through open-air burning. In an area this large, construction impacts to cultural resources would be likely to occur. No work force projections are available for constructing a large PV facility. If prefabricated components and a modular construction approach were used, the work force would probably be smaller than for nonrenewable central generating stations. Such a work force would result in fewer socioeconomic impacts in the form of jobs and local purchases, but the severe impacts of large work forces affecting small communities probably could be avoided.

Adverse operating impacts of PV facilities are associated with the large land requirements. All of the 14,000 ha (35,000 acres) would be lost to other uses for the life of the plant because the land would be covered with PV arrays. Impacts associated with loss of wildlife habitat or agricultural lands would occur, and erosion could develop without proper controls. Water quality could be adversely affected from runoff from PV arrays and drainage unless site engineering included mitigative measures. Substantial visual impacts created from land clearing would be continued in a different form by the extensive PV arrays covering the landscape. The socioeconomic benefits flowing to host communities would be considerably less with PVs than from baseload nonrenewable generating technologies because work forces and plant expenditures would be much less. Tax revenues could be fairly substantial, however, if PV capital costs were comparable to nuclear and fossil plant costs and resulted in correspondingly high assessed values. Other impacts, including those to air quality, solid wastes, and human health, either would not occur or would be small.

8.3.3 Solar Thermal Power

Solar thermal conversion systems use reflective materials to concentrate sunlight to heat a fluid that runs a turbine. Both central-receiver and distributed-receiver systems have been used. The parabolic trough, an example of a distributed receiver system, is used in the only large-scale [354-MW(e)] commercial solar thermal power program in the United States, the Luz International facilities located at several sites in the Mojave Desert in California. The Luz facilities, which consist of nine thermal plants [one 13.8-MW(e) unit, six 30-MW(e) units, and two 80-MW(e) units], use natural gas as a backup fuel for generating steam on cloudy days and at night. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1991 because of lower fossil fuel prices and reduced incentives for renewable technologies (DeLaguil et al. 1993). DOE and a consortium of 12 other organizations are retrofitting Solar One, a 10-MW(e) central receiver pilot plant near Barstow, California. It is to come on-line in 1995, renamed Solar Two, and will use a molten-salt heat transfer medium instead of the original oil system to collect and store heat energy. Developers hope that commercial versions of this new Solar Two technology can operate at capacity factors of 60 percent and thus provide dispatchable rather than intermittent power. Based upon solar energy resources (Figure 8.2), the most promising region of the country for this technology is the West.

Solar thermal systems have constraints similar to those of PV systems in that capital costs are higher than for nonrenewable resources, and solar thermal systems lack baseload capability unless combined with natural gas backup. The use of purely solar thermal systems for baseload capacity requires very large amounts of energy storage, such as pumped hydro facilities, compressed air chambers, or batteries. Capacity factors are estimated to be between 25 and 40 percent for future solar thermal plants (Hamrin and Rader 1993). Except for a few older units, most nuclear and baseload coal units generate between 200 and 1000 MW(e) of baseload power and have reached average capacity factors of 65 percent or better in recent years (OTA 1993a).

The construction impacts of building a solar thermal central generating station would stem from the amount of land required to generate 1000 MW(e) of electricity. About 6000 ha (14,000 acres) or 57 km2 (22 square miles) of land would be cleared either at one site or at multiple locations, with the resulting destruction of whatever wildlife habitat or agricultural values the land provided. A greenfield site or sites, along with new transmission lines, probably would be required because few existing facilities would have sufficient land for such an endeavor. The visual impact of such clearing, even in desert landscapes where solar thermal technology is most competitive, would be regarded by many observers as an obvious negative aesthetic impact. Potential impacts to cultural resources could be considerable because of the large amount of land affected, and care would need to be taken to identify such resources before construction. Some erosion and sedimentation would likely occur during land clearance. Considerable short-term impacts to air quality would occur from dust and vehicle exhaust, and vegetation and other debris would require disposal, perhaps through on-site burning. As with PV technology, the size of the construction work force that would be needed is unknown, but it could be reduced through the use of prefabricated components and a modular construction approach. Adverse socioeconomic impacts could be reduced in this fashion.

The operating impacts of a large solar thermal facility also would revolve around land resources dedicated to the plant. No other uses would be compatible since the solar thermal collectors would take up most of the space. Construction-initiated adverse aesthetic impacts and habitat losses and any accompanying risks to threatened and endangered species would continue. There should be few operating impacts to air quality, human health, solid waste, and cultural resources. Water quality should not be affected unless water were used as a cooling agent in an arid environment where it is in short supply or water runoff from the collectors were uncontrolled and sedimentation damaged water bodies. Socioeconomic benefits should be small compared with those going to host communities of large nonrenewable generating stations. Work forces and local purchases would be small. However, the likely high cost--and high assessed value--of solar thermal facilities could lead to substantial property tax revenues.

8.3.4 Hydropower

Currently, the largest electricity contribution from renewable resources is from hydropower. In 1990, conventional hydroelectric plants generated 28 billion kWh of electricity or 83 percent of electricity generated by renewable technologies and about 9.5 percent of electricity generated by all technologies. Hydropower makes up 10 percent of this country's generating capacity. This percentage is expected to decline because new hydroelectric facilities have become difficult to site as a result of public concern over flooding, destruction of natural habitat, and destruction of natural river courses. Hydropower has an average capacity factor of 46 percent, placing it in the middle of the range for renewable technologies (DOE/EIA-0561). Of all renewable and nonrenewable energy resources, hydropower has the fewest resources at 986 quads per year, of which 157 quads are accessible at some cost and 58 quads, or about 6 percent, constitute reserves that are recoverable at current costs (DOE/EIA-0561). Figure 8.3 shows both developed and undeveloped hydropower generating capacity as of January 1992, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (DOE/EIA-0561).

Impediments to the development of hydropower capacity include environmental concerns and licensing requirements. New dam safety criteria also have affected development. Although it is unlikely that many hydroelectric dams will be constructed in the future, some measures can be taken to increase electrical generation. Older turbines and generators can be upgraded and refurbished. New equipment--such as variable-speed, constant-frequency generators--is being developed which would allow turbines to operate at higher efficiencies (SERI/TP-260-3674).

Although the amount varies, large-scale hydroelectric plants of 1000 MW(e) or greater require an average of almost 400,000 ha (1 million acres). Additional land would be required for transmission, as

Figure 8.3 U.S. conventional hydroelectric generating capacity, developed and undeveloped (gigawatts).
Source: Adapted from DOE/EIA-0561.

the sites likely would be new. Wildlife habitat would be lost for terrestrial and free-flowing aquatic biota, and additional habitat would be created for some aquatic species. Associated with the loss of land would be some erosion, sedimentation, dust, equipment exhaust, debris from land clearing, probable loss of cultural artifacts, and aesthetic impacts from land clearing and excavating. The construction work force would be fairly large, and socioeconomic impacts likely would be substantial, especially if the dam were constructed in a remote area where inmigrating workers would burden local public services.

Operating impacts from hydroelectric dams are associated predominantly with land and water resources. Land that once was lived on, farmed, ranched, forested, hunted, or mined would be submerged under water indefinitely. The original land uses would be replaced by electricity generation and recreation and, perhaps, residential and business developments that take advantage of the lake environment. Changes in water temperature, currents, and amount of sedimentation would produce a different aquatic environment above and below the dam. Alterations to terrestrial and aquatic habitats could change the risks to threatened and endangered species. Although the hydroelectric dam would create no air quality or solid waste impacts during operation and could serve as a protector of property and lives in preventing floods, lake recreation would likely bring with it a number of drownings and cause water pollution during the facility's operation.

8.3.5 Geothermal

Potentially recoverable geothermal resources are located in the upper 10 miles (16 km) of the earth's crust. These resources exist in the form of hot vapor (steam) or liquid (hydrothermal), geopressurized brines, or hot dry rock. Hydrothermal is the only resource used by current commercial technology. EIA estimates that about 1.5 million quads per year of geothermal resources exist in the United States; however, only about 22,800 quads are accessible and, of these, only approximately 250 quads per year can be economically developed today (DOE/EIA-0561). In 1990, geothermal resources contributed 0.32 quad of primary energy in the western United States. The net geothermal generating capacity in the United States is projected to grow from 15 billion kWh in 1990 to about 60 billion kWh in 2010. In comparison, one 1000-MW(e) nuclear plant operating at 60 percent capacity generates 5.26 billion kWh annually (DOE/EIA-0561). Geothermal has a high capacity factor of approximately 90 percent and can be used to provide reliable, baseload power. A geothermal electricity generating facility consists of a conversion well that brings the geothermal resources to the surface, the conversion system that produces useful energy from the resource, and the injection well that recycles cooled brine back to the underground reservoir (SERI/TP-260-3674).

As shown in Figure 8.4, geothermal plants may be located in the western United States, Alaska, and Hawaii where hydrothermal reservoirs are prevalent. The discrepancy between the vast amount of resource projected to be available (1.5 million quads per year) and projected usage is due primarily to technological problems. Although geothermal plants offer alternative baseload capacity to conventional fossil fuel and nuclear plants, widespread application of geothermal

Figure 8.4 U.S. known and potential geothermal energy resources. Source: Adapted from DOE/EIA-0562.

energy is constrained by the geographic availability of the resource and the maturity of the technology. The maximum size of geothermal power plants, in their present state of development, is about 110 MW(e) per unit. Geothermal plants, however, could be sited as modular units that would allow for larger generating capacities.

Construction impacts of a geothermal facility would result primarily from disturbance of land to support the large number of geothermal wells and the power plant needed to produce electricity equivalent to that from a 1000-MW(e) plant. Excluding new transmission corridors, which would add to most impacts, an estimated 2800 ha (7000 acres) would be needed even though the generating facility or facilities would only occupy around 25 ha (60 acres). This amount of acreage having appropriate geothermal resources would require a greenfield site or sites, which would imply altering current land uses of farming, ranching, forest, or natural habitat. Clearing this land would damage or destroy much of the existing habitat for wildlife, as well as pose potential adverse consequences for cultural resources. Aesthetic impacts would include extensive vegetation removal and earth moving. Soil erosion and stream sedimentation likely would result in some degree from the early clearing operations. Fugitive dust and exhaust fumes from heavy equipment would reduce air quality temporarily. The moderate-sized work force would create some community impacts, particularly if affected communities were small and had little service infrastructure to accommodate workers who might move into a rural environment to build the plant. Operating impacts would involve those resources most closely associated with the land disturbed in constructing the geothermal facility. Some of the land originally cleared for construction of the geothermal facilities could probably be returned to previous uses, since it would not all have geothermal facilities located on it. Much acreage would still be lost for the life of the plant, however, and this loss could be complicated by subsidence caused by withdrawal of the geothermal fluid. Loss of habitat, impacts to threatened and endangered species, and visual impacts could be mitigated partially by returning much of the land to, or even leaving it in, its original condition. Surface water and groundwater quality could be impacted adversely if waste fluids from wells escaped into the ground water or surface streams or ponds. In addition various toxic gases such as ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide and trace amounts of arsenic, borax, mercury, radon, and benzene would be released to the atmosphere. Noise impacts could be a problem for residents living on the edge of a geothermal site. Socioeconomic impacts should be positive with substantial tax revenues and a considerable number of jobs accruing to local taxing jurisdictions from a geothermal plant.

8.3.6 Wood Waste

The 2.4 quads per year of waste wood energy consumed in the United States generally is apportioned among the following sectors: industrial heat and power--1.6 quads (66 percent), residential space heating--0.8 quads (33 percent), and electric utilities--0.01 quads (1 percent). Industrial wood energy is used in a variety of process heat and cogeneration applications. Nearly half of that wood energy is used in boilers, a little over 40 percent in cogeneration (steam and electricity), and the remainder as process heat. Much of the electricity produced by the industrial sector is sold to utilities. These nonutility generators, along with independent power producers, generated about 31 billion kWh in 1990 from 6 GW(e) of installed wood- and wood-waste-fired capacity. By 2010, installed capacity is expected to increase to over 8 GW(e) and net generation to nearly 60 billion kWh (DOE/EIA-0561).

Wood waste is a sub-category of biomass energy. The category can include residues from forest clearcut and thinning operations, non-commercial tree species, harvests of forests for energy purposes, and wastes from forest product milling operations. The costs of these fuels are highly variable and very site-specific. Costs can be very low if the fuels are collected as part of commercial timber harvest operations or as residues from milling operations. Costs are higher if the biomass has to be collected and removed after forest harvest and thinning operations.

In addition to the costs of competing fuels, many factors affect the viability of wood waste power production. Among the factors influencing the costs of forest residues and wastes are the costs of collecting (harvesting), hauling, storing, and handling feedstocks; fuel characteristics (quality, reliability and variability of supply); levels of economic activity that affect waste generation; technological change in waste generation processes and development of competing uses (e.g., wafer board); and environmental considerations and restrictions as influenced by public perceptions, access, and environmental factors. Because mill wastes are concentrated, uniform, and often of high quality, they are highly desirable for non-energy uses and products. They are becoming fully utilized by forest products and pulp/paper industries, and there is limited availability for energy uses.

Nearly all of the wood-energy-using electricity generation facilities in the United States use steam turbine conversion technology. The technology is relatively simple to operate and it can accept a wide variety of biomass fuels. However, at the scale appropriate for biomass, the technology is expensive and inefficient. Therefore, the technology is relegated to applications where there is a readily available supply of low-, zero-, or negative-cost delivered feedstocks.

The low efficiency of wood-fired power plants, relative to modern coal-fired plants, is due in part to the use of more moderate steam conditions. Biomass steam-turbine plants use lower pressures and temperatures because of the strong scale-dependence of the unit capital cost (dollars per kilowatt). Building biomass plants at modest scales [<50 MW(e)] makes economic sense when conversion facilities have a nearby, reliable supply of low-cost wood wastes and residues. Conversion efficiencies of wood-fired power plants that are being built today are in the 20-25 percent net efficiency range (DOE/CH100093-152). These facilities usually provide baseload power and operate with capacity factors of around 70-80 percent.

Removal of logging slash and forest thinnings may be environmentally significant, particularly when 160,000 to 320,000 ha (400,000 to 800,000 acres) could be affected to support a large wood waste plant. Forest residues left on-site help to create habitat for animals and provide nutrients to forest soil. The presence of forest slash and thinnings can also serve to lessen soil erosion and its concomitant impacts. Forest residues are therefore important to ecosystems, and they must be carefully guarded from overuse (OTA 1993b).

Plant construction impacts should not be significant if the plants are properly sited and designed (ECO Northwest et al. 1986). The overall level of construction impact should be approximately the same as that for a coal-fired plant, although wood-waste-fired facilities will be built at smaller scales. Like coal-fired plants, wood-waste plants require large areas for fuel storage and processing and involve the same type of combustion equipment.

Emissions during plant operations are CO, oxides of nitrogen, SOx, PM, and CO2. Relative to coal and other primary fossil-fuel sources of electricity, wood-fired electricity generation has very low levels of SOx emissions because wood contains very little sulfur. There are also reduced emissions of oxides of nitrogen. The major emissions from wood-fired generation involve the release of particulate matter. However, these emissions are controlled effectively with existing technology. Emissions to land and water resources are associated with soil disturbance and runoff and the disposal of ash. However, ash disposal is not a major concern from wood combustion and the ash may be beneficial as a fertilizer and soil conditioner provided the pH is not excessively high.

8.3.7 Municipal Solid Waste

MSW differs from other biomass energy sources because utilization is primarily a waste management decision, and increased use of MSW is likely to be driven by costs of disposal (i.e., higher tipping fees and reduced landfill space) rather than by energy considerations. Currently, about 15 percent of the MSW produced in this country is burned to produce heat and power. In 1990, MSW was used to generate 10 billion kWh from 2 GW(e) of installed capacity (DOE/EIA-0561). Electricity generation from MSW is projected to grow to 54 billion kWh by 2010 with 11 GW(e) of installed capacity (DOE/EIA-0561).

Population and economic growth, reduced availability of landfill space, and increasing tipping fees are creating strong incentives to reduce the size of the waste stream, change its composition, and find alternative uses, such as energy. However, numerous obstacles and factors may limit the growth in MSW power generation. Chief among them are environmental regulations and public opposition to siting MSW facilities. Others include voluntary recycling, state laws mandating reductions in the MSW going to landfills, efforts to limit packaging, prohibitions against yard wastes and construction and demolition wastes in landfills, and changes in the heat content of MSW given the fate of plastics and wood in waste streams.

MSW conversion facilities use basically the same steam-turbine technology found at wood waste facilities. However, installed capital costs are much greater because of the need for specialized MSW handling and waste separation equipment and stricter environmental emissions controls. MSW facilities typically have high capacity factors (85-90 percent) and provide baseload power.

MSW combustion is a waste disposal option for communities that lack landfill space. Since MSW must be collected regardless of whether it is used for power production, impacts associated with collection and transport are not considered here. The environmental impacts that are relevant are those associated with combustion compared with the actual landfilling of the wastes. Among the more important environmental tradeoffs are decreased landfill requirements and possible improvements in groundwater quality (leachate minimization) versus decreased air quality from MSW combustion (ECO Northwest 1986).

MSW-fired facilities are usually sited and constructed in industrial areas; the overall construction impact is not likely to be significant if plants are sited and built properly (ECO Northwest et al. 1986). Construction impacts are similar to those of coal-fired power plants in terms of the acreage disturbed.

Emissions from MSW combustion facilities include particulates, oxides of nitrogen, acid gases, metals, and organic compounds. These are potentially serious emissions; however, MSW facilities are required to operate with much stricter controls than biomass facilities burning wood and wood wastes. Odors are also a potential impact from MSW combustion. MSW facilities face much public opposition, and siting can be especially problematic.

8.3.8 Energy Crops

Expanding biomass-fired power generation capabilities beyond the size of the waste resource base requires the use of dedicated feedstocks or energy crops (Wright 1994; Hohenstein and Wright 1994). Energy crops appropriate for combustion and power production include short-rotation woody crops (e.g., poplar) and perennial herbaceous crops (e.g., switchgrass). Woody crops typically consist of plantations of closely spaced trees that are harvested on a cutting cycle of 3-10 years. The trees are not managed intensively, requiring only weed control in the first 2-3 years of growth and some fertilization. Woody crops have been developed that produce yields two to three times greater than those achieved by traditional forest management. Growing herbaceous crops is similar to growing hay. They are managed similarly to hay; however, yields are much higher. As with other biomass energy feedstocks, projected energy costs are very site specific and depend greatly on realized yields.

Biomass power based on energy crops and current conversion technology generally is not currently competitive with fossil-fired alternatives in terms of generating costs. The competitiveness of generating electricity from energy crops can be improved by developing conversion technologies that offer higher efficiencies and lower unit capital costs at modest scales appropriate for biomass. One technology under development and testing that offers higher conversion efficiency is Whole Tree Energy (WTE®) technology (Lamarre 1994). WTE® is an innovative steam turbine technology that uses an integral fuel drying process. Waste heat, produced by the flue gas at 54° C (130° F), is used to dry wood stacked in a large, air-inflated building for 30 days before it is conveyed to a boiler and burned. Allowing the waste heat to dry the wet whole-tree fuel can result in net plant efficiencies comparable to those of a modern coal-fired plant (35 percent). WTEÔ also reduces wood harvesting and handling costs as well as the need for equipment such as hammer mills, screens, and chippers that is used for reducing the size of the wood feedstock.

According to some experts, the most promising technologies for wood-fired power generation lie in the development of gas turbine cycles (Williams and Larson 1993). Gas turbines (or Brayton cycles) have already been developed for natural gas and clean liquid fuels. A key advantage of gas turbine technology is the potential for substantially reduced capital costs, which are relatively insensitive to scale, higher conversion efficiencies (upwards of 45 percent), and greater modularity. Adapting the technology for biomass (i.e., biomass-gasifier/gas turbine--BIG/GT) would require the use of a gasifier to thermochemically convert wood to a gas. The resultant gas would then be cooled and cleaned before being burned in a gas turbine. There are a number of technology choices for both gasification and power generation, ranging from simple cycle gas turbines to gasifier combined cycles and gasifier intercooled steam-injected cycles.

The net environmental impacts of growing energy crops depend on the type of land they occupy and the uses they displace. Energy crops are currently being targeted as alternatives to conventional agriculture. With surpluses in cropland projected, energy crops are seen as a potentially important alternative crop to conventional agriculture. The displacement of certain agricultural row crops (e.g., corn and soybeans) with trees might result in a positive net change in environmental impacts, especially on erosive sites. The production of wood in managed plantations would be much less erosive than row crop production, and the amounts of fertilizers and pesticides used would be much smaller. The conversion of pasture land to tree production might increase soil erosion as trees were being established. However, runoff containing nutrients from animal wastes would not be present. Perhaps the strongest environmental argument for energy crops is the potential to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by providing a substitute baseload generation source for fossil fuels (Wright 1994).

Plant construction and operating impacts would be identical to those associated with wood-waste-fired facilities.

8.3.9 Coal

Coal-fired steam electric plants provide the bulk of electric generating capacity in the United States, accounting for about 56 percent of the electric utility industry's net generation and 43 percent of its capacity in 1992 [(DOE/EIA-0383(94)]. EIA projects slight changes in these percentages to 58 percent and 42 percent, respectively, by 2010. Conventional coal-fired plants generally include two or more generating units and have total capacities ranging from 100 MW(e) to more than 2000 MW(e). Domestic coal resources are estimated at over 87,000 quads of energy, of which about 38,000 quads constitute accessible resources and 5,300 quads are reserves that can be cost-effectively recovered today. Total U.S. coal consumption in 1990 was about 19 quads, which leads to the conclusion that coal is likely to continue to be a reliable energy source well into the future (DOE/EIA-0561), assuming environmental constraints do not cause a gradual substitution of other fuels.

DOE has encouraged the increased use of coal by electric utilities through its cost sharing of clean coal projects to develop and demonstrate advanced technologies that reduce atmospheric emissions of coal combustion pollutants and improve the environmental acceptability of coal. A description of 22 generic clean coal technologies considered by DOE in the Clean Coal Technology Program, which is being terminated, is provided in DOE/EIS-0146.

A window of opportunity for clean coal technologies may occur in the late 1990s as a result of the aging of currently operating coal-fired power plants and passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA) and Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT). Utilities will be considering the option of constructing replacement plants, extending the life of existing coal-fired plants, purchasing additional pollution allowances, or even buying electricity from other sources. Repowering is an important alternative that is discussed in Section 8.3.13. It is quite cost effective, increases plant capacity, and offers various financial and institutional benefits under the CAAA and EPACT that enhance a utility's competitiveness (Norton and Gottlieb 1993). With repowering, a utility replaces an obsolete steam generator with an advanced coal technology, such as an atmospheric fluidized-bed boiler or an integrated coal-gasification/combined-cycle (Bretz 1994). To date, utilities have responded to CAAA's SO2 emissions goals by adding scrubbers and burning a higher proportion of Western low-sulfur coal rather than purchasing pollution allowances, thereby resulting in lower SO2 emissions (Bohi 1994). DOE also forecasts that by the year 2010, advanced coal technologies--if successfully applied--could have the capability to reduce national CO2 emissions by 5 to 12 percent (DOE/EIS-0146).

The United States has abundant low-cost coal reserves, and the price of coal for electric generation is likely to increase at a relatively slow rate. Even with recent environmental legislation, new coal capacity is expected to be an affordable technology for reliable, near-term development and for potential use as a replacement technology for retired nuclear power plants.

The environmental impacts of constructing a typical coal-fired steam plant are well known because coal is the most prevalent type of central generating technology in the United States. The impacts of constructing a 1000-MW(e) coal plant at a greenfield site can be substantial, particularly if it is sited in a rural area with considerable natural habitat. An estimated 700 ha (1700 acres) would be needed, and this could amount to the loss of about 8 km2 (3 square miles) of natural habitat and/or agricultural land for the plant site alone, excluding that required for mining and other fuel cycle impacts. Ecological impacts could be large, and important cultural sites could be encountered, particularly near rivers. With this much land being cleared, some erosion and sedimentation would be expected. Considerable fugitive dust emissions would affect air quality temporarily, and the quantity of construction debris also would be substantial. Aesthetic impacts from such a large construction effort in a rural area could be substantial. Socioeconomic impacts at a rural site would be larger than at an urban site because more of the 1200-2500 peak work force would need to move to the area to work. Such impacts are worst at very remote sites where accommodations may be nonexistent and the large majority of workers must move to work on the plant. Transmission line impacts would add to virtually all these impacts. Siting a new coal-fired plant where a nuclear plant is located would reduce many construction impacts, thereby reducing the initial damage to the environment and eliminating the need for new transmission lines. Such co-locating would depend on factors such as location of load centers, environmental restrictions, and site characteristics.

Operating impacts of new coal plants would be substantial for several resources. Concerns over adverse human health effects from coal combustion have led to important federal legislation in recent years, such as the CAAA. Although the situation appears to be improving, health concerns remain. Air quality would be impacted by the release of CO2, regulated pollutants, and radionuclides. Public health risks such as cancer and emphysema are considered likely results. CO2 has been identified as a leading cause of global warming. SO2 and oxides of nitrogen have been identified with acid rain. Substantial solid waste, especially fly ash and scrubber sludge, would be produced and would require constant management. Losses to aquatic biota would occur through impingement and entrainment and discharge of cooling water to natural water bodies. Socioeconomic benefits can be considerable for surrounding communities in the form of several hundred jobs, substantial tax revenues, and plant spending.

An estimated 8,900 ha (22,000 acres) for mining the coal and disposing of the waste could be committed to supporting a coal plant during its operational life. Air quality impacts from fugitive dust, water quality impacts from acidic runoff, and aesthetic and cultural resources impacts are all potential adverse consequences of coal mining. Socioeconomic benefits from several hundred mining jobs and tax revenues would also accompany the coal mining.

8.3.10 Natural Gas

Natural gas supplied 9.4 percent of this country's net electric utility generation in 1992 and is projected to supply 11.4 percent of electricity in 2010 [DOE/EIA-0383(94)]. Domestic natural gas resources are estimated at 1,700 quads, of which approximately 900 quads are accessible resources and about 230 quads are reserves that currently can be recovered cost-effectively (DOE/EIA-0561). Most of the supply in the continental United States is located in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas, locations favored for gas-fired plants because of relatively low gas prices. Although natural gas reserves are fairly large, much of the resource is located in remote areas that are not served by a pipeline infrastructure connected to high-demand centers.

The natural gas fuel cycle consists of exploration/extraction (drilling and production), processing, transportation by pipelines, end use, and waste management. Utilities receive gas at power plants through pipelines on a continuous basis.

Natural gas is used in three technologies: conventional steam, gas-turbine, and combined-cycle. In conventional steam plants, the traditional gas-fired technology, natural gas is burned to produce steam. The process is very similar to that used for coal and oil technologies. Because natural gas can be used more efficiently in gas-turbine and combined-cycle facilities than in a conventional steam plant, the latter technology is no longer being used for new generating stations. In gas-turbine plants, gas (or distillate oil) is burned to produce an exhaust gas that drives the turbine. Combined-cycle plants, which are particularly efficient and are used as intermediate and baseload facilities, combine the gas-turbine technology with a heat recovery system that powers a steam cycle [DOE/EIA-0383(94)]. These combined-cycle systems represent the large majority of the total number of plants currently under construction or planned in the United States. Most of the plants are small and have proved to be popular with nonutility generators (Bergesen 1994). Those using combined-cycle technology can qualify as Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) plants if they are no larger than 80 MW(e) and operate as cogenerators.

Most environmental impacts of constructing natural-gas-fired plants should be approximately the same for steam, gas-turbine and combined-cycle plants. These impacts, in turn, generally will be similar to those of other large central generating stations. Land-use requirements for gas-fired plants are small at 45 ha (110 acres) for a 1000-MW(e) plant; thus land-dependent ecological, aesthetic, erosion, and cultural impacts should be small unless site-specific factors should indicate a particular sensitivity for some environmental resource. Siting at a greenfield location would require new transmission lines and increased land-related impacts, whereas co-locating the gas-fired plant with the retired nuclear plant would help reduce land-related impacts. Socioeconomic impacts should not be very noticeable because the highest peak work force of 1200 for steam plants is small for a central generating technology, and gas-fired plants are not usually sited in remote areas where community impacts would be most adverse. Also, gas-fired plants, particularly combined cycle and gas turbine, take much less time to construct than other plants.

The environmental impacts of operating gas-fired plants are generally less than those of other fossil fuel technologies of equal capacity. Consumptive water use is about the same for steam plants as for other technologies. There are potential impacts to aquatic biota through impingement and entrainment and increased water temperatures in receiving water bodies. Water consumption is likely to be less for gas-turbine plants. Generally, air quality impacts for all natural gas technologies are less than for other fossil technologies because fewer pollutants are emitted and SO2, a contributor to acid precipitation, is not emitted at all. Solid waste should be minimal. The work force of 150 workers would be the lowest of any nonrenewable technology, as would local purchases and local tax revenues. Approximately 1500 ha (3600 acres) of additional land would be required for wells, collection stations, and pipelines to bring the natural gas to the generating facility. Impacts would be typical of those associated with land clearance. Operational impacts should not be severe because most of the land would not be disturbed further once facilities were sited.

8.3.11 Oil

Oil-fired power production was 3.2 percent of the country's total net electricity generation in 1992 and is projected to decline to 2.3 percent by 2010 [DOE/EIA-0383(94)]. Domestic petroleum resources are estimated by the EIA at about 2,800 quads, of which about 1,100 quads are accessible at some price, and about 160 are recoverable at current costs (DOE/EIA-0561). In the 12-year period for which EIA has reported annual oil and gas reserves (1977 through 1988), year-end crude oil reserves decreased by 19.9 percent ([DOE/EIA-0216(88)].

The oil fuel cycle system involves exploration/extraction, processing, transportation, end use, and waste management. The production of electricity from oil combustion is accomplished by the same process used for coal and natural gas. Oil-fired plants provide peak, intermediate, and baseload capacity.

The economics, apart from fuel price, of oil-fired power generation are similar to those of natural gas-fired power generation. Distillate oil can be used to run gas turbines in a combined-cycle system; however, the cost of distillate oil usually makes this combined-cycle system much less competitive where gas is available. Oil-fired power generation has experienced a significant decline since the early 1970s. Increases in world oil prices have forced utilities to use less expensive fuels; however, oil-fired power generation is still important in certain regions of the United States.

Constructing a 1000-MW(e) oil-fired power plant would have the same environmental impacts as constructing other large central generating power stations. Relatively small land requirements of an estimated 50 ha (120 acres), however, would be expected to reduce other resource impacts that tend to follow land-use impacts: ecological, aesthetic, air quality, water quality, and cultural. As land-use requirements decrease, erosion, loss of habitat, and negative aesthetic impacts decrease as well, although very site-specific considerations occasionally enter the picture. Expected socioeconomic impacts should not be high because of the moderate size work force of 1700, and oil-fired plants typically are not sited in remote areas or otherwise away from larger communities that are on pipelines or near where the oil is refined, consumed, or imported. Transmission lines for a greenfield site likely would increase land-dependent impacts in approximate proportion to the transmission/generation acreage. Land-use related impacts could be reduced if the oil-fired plant were colocated with the retired nuclear plant.

Environmental impacts of operating oil-fired power plants are similar to those from comparably sized coal-fired plants. Since they typically use the same cooling systems, water use and related impacts to water quality and aquatic biota would be similar. Air emissions, too, would be typical of coal plants; regulated pollutants, CO2, and small amounts of radionuclides would be emitted, although in lesser quantities than from an equivalent-size coal-fired plant. Moderate amounts of scrubber sludge would require disposal. Attendant impacts would include acid precipitation, global warming, and some increased risk of health problems, such as emphysema, cancer, and other illnesses associated with combustion of fossil fuels. Employment, tax revenues, and local purchases would be positive socioeconomic impacts for some local communities. Approximately 650 ha (1600 acres) of additional land would be needed for oil wells and support facilities that would provide the generating plant with fuel. Impacts would likely be similar to those of other land clearing activities. Operational impacts should not be severe because, as with gas, the land generally would not be disturbed once the wells were producing.

8.3.12 Advanced Light-Water Reactor

Section 2.1 describes a typical nuclear power plant and its operation. In 1992, nuclear power provided 22 percent of total United States net electric utility generation, a figure that is expected to decline to 18.8 percent by 2010. Nuclear power represented 14.3 percent of this country's 1992 electric utility generation capacity and is projected to decline to 12.2 percent by 2010 [DOE/EIA-0383(94)].

Current American research focuses on the advanced LWR as a viable replacement for existing nuclear plants. Advanced LWR technology differs from current LWR technologies primarily in component design, including passive safety features that reduce the probability of severe accidents (NUREG-1362). Advanced LWRs would require slightly more fuel than current designs, resulting in slight increases in spent fuel generation and lower overall plant efficiencies. Future plants using the advanced LWR technology are expected to require smaller sites and shorter construction periods than current nuclear plants (NUREG-1362). They may also involve smaller, modular plants. The long hiatus in nuclear plant starts is not expected to end soon, however, even with advanced LWR technology, and the EIA projects that no new nuclear plants will be added by 2010 [DOE/EIA-0383(94)].

The environmental impacts of constructing an advanced LWR nuclear plant are expected to be equivalent to the impacts of building any large energy facility. Impacts could be moderated somewhat if the plant were built at a current nuclear plant site rather than at a greenfield site because the prevailing land use would be compatible at the former site. Thus, building a plant on a greenfield site would produce more severe impacts.

Advanced LWRs require perhaps 200 to 400 ha (500 to 1000 acres) excluding transmission lines, which could add hundreds to thousands of ha depending upon the distance of the plant from connecting transmission lines or load centers. Destruction of wildlife habitat would occur, and threatened and endangered species would require special consideration to avoid adverse impacts. Erosion, sedimentation, fugitive dust, aesthetic intrusions, and disturbance to cultural artifacts would tend to be proportional to the amount of land disturbed, but site-specific considerations can enter the picture. Socioeconomic impacts from building a large, complex technology would be substantial. With a relatively large but currently unquantified peak construction work force, employment and local spending would benefit. Public services could be adversely affected if those services were operating at capacity previous to plant construction or if a relatively undeveloped remote community were impacted by a large number of inmigrating, temporary workers.

The environmental impacts of operating advanced LWRs would be similar to those of operating current nuclear plants except that slightly more radioactive waste would be generated and the potential for accidents should be reduced somewhat. The newer technology would have built-in safety features that would shut down the plant automatically and use natural forces to greatly reduce the possibilities that severe accidents could occur. Socioeconomic benefits for local communities normally associated with large energy facilities, including substantial employment, tax revenues, and local purchases, would also result from siting of an advanced LWR. Approximately 400 additional ha (1000 acres) would be committed to uranium mining and processing during the life of the advanced LWR. Impacts should be similar to those of other clearing and land-use operations associated with uranium mines and mills and would involve some adverse air and water quality impacts and health risks.

8.3.13 Delayed Retirement of Existing Non-Nuclear Plants

Another potential alternative to license renewal would be to continue to generate electricity from non-nuclear plants beyond the original date at which they were scheduled to shut down permanently. This alternative would have the effect mainly of substituting coal, gas, oil, or hydropower plants for nuclear facilities.

In recent years electric utilities have given considerable attention to the issue of repowering non-nuclear generating facilities. Repowering is the primary process by which utilities extend the life of their generating plants. It is comparable to refurbishing a nuclear plant. Since the average age of all types of fossil units is over 30 years, utilities have been exploring repowering older fossil units as a way of avoiding even larger capital outlays for new plants (Bretz 1994). As of March 1994, about 30 units with a total capacity of 3000 MW(e) had been proposed for repowering. Assuming regulatory environmental compliance and a successful application of lessons learned from federal clean coal technology demonstrations, DOE estimates that up to 248 GW(e) of generating capacity could be repowered or retrofitted with clean coal technologies by the year 2010 (DOE/EIS-0146). In 1991 DOE estimated that 2500 coal-fired plants were 30 years old or older (making them candidates for repowering) and that this total would rise to 3500 to 3700 in 1998. From a utility's perspective, not only might repowering be cost-effective; but also environmental goals, particularly improved air quality, could be easier to accomplish since improved, less polluting technologies would be installed during repowering.

Repowering involves a major rehabilitation of a generating facility and focuses on replacing the steam generator with an improved steam generating technology. Replacement technologies currently regarded as the most attractive candidates include (1) gas-turbine/generator and heat recovery steam generator, (2) atmospheric fluidized-bed boiler, (3) integrated coal-gasification/combined cycle, and (4) pressurized fluidized-bed combustor/combined cycle. The first candidate, the most favored by utilities to date, is a natural gas technology and the last three are coal-fired technologies (Bretz 1994). The technologies could be sited anywhere in the country where fossil plants are located. Repowering efforts currently under way may produce increases in plant output of 20 percent or more, an improvement that amounts to a substantial increase in generating capacity.

Delaying the retirement of older fossil fuel plants (30 years old) would normally require that such plants be repowered if they are to operate long enough for them to be considered feasible alternatives to relicensed nuclear plants. Because repowering technologies are just being implemented, information about actual environmental impacts is only now becoming available.

The construction required to repower a coal or gas-fired plant would be substantial because much of the plant would be improved. For a large coal plant, the effort would be of the same general magnitude as that required to refurbish a nuclear plant. Gas-fired plants are less complex and would involve less work than coal plants. Little land would be affected that had not already been cleared and built upon in the initial plant construction. Consequently, ecological and cultural impacts would be negligible during repowering, as would impacts to air and water. Socioeconomic impacts would occur but would be smaller than during the original construction of the coal or gas-fired plants.

Major reductions in a plant's airborne emissions should be realized as the most important impact. DOE/EIS-0146 states, "Repowering opens the door to a future of sustained deep reductions in nationwide emissions of SO2, one of the chief pollutants thought to contribute to acid rainfall" (p. 2-10). SO2 reductions by conventional coal-fired plants would vary from 90 to 99 percent depending upon the specific technology. Similarly, oxides of nitrogen, one of the emissions associated with global warming, would be reduced between 60 and 92 percent from current emissions from conventional coal-fired plants. On the other hand, solid waste would be increased as the new technologies reduced air pollution by converting what would normally be an air pollutant into solid wastes (DOE/EIS-0146). Recent experience with repowered plants starting to come on line confirms SO2 and oxides of nitrogen reductions of at least 90 percent in these technologies (Bretz 1994). Gas turbine/generators without heat recovery steam generators are expected to reduce oxides of nitrogen emissions by more than 90 percent. Land use, cultural resources, and socioeconomic resources should not be affected by repowering.

8.3.14 Conservation

A wide variety of conservation technologies could be considered as alternatives to generating electricity at current nuclear plants. These technologies could include hardware, such as more efficient motors in consumer appliances, commercial establishments, or manufacturing processes; more energy-efficient light bulbs; and improved heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Also, structures could be weatherized with better insulation, weather stripping, and storm windows. These measures generally come under the heading of DSM, which is a collection of diverse measures to reduce customers' electricity consumption without adversely affecting service. Other conservation measures a utility could take would be to install more efficient equipment as it retrofits its power plants and improves distribution and transmission technologies. An average of 6.2 percent of an American utility's power is lost before reaching customers (Kelly and Weinberg 1993).

Conservation technologies and measures have proved to be popular with some utilities, public utility commissions and members of the public, who see them as a way of providing economical service while avoiding construction of more electric generating facilities. Increased competition within the utility industry and pressure from public utility commissions and public interest groups have forced utilities to consider conservation technologies as essentially new resources in the utility's portfolio of capabilities and invest in them as they would new generating sources. On a national scale (based on EIA electricity growth projections in DOE's National Energy Strategy and Electric Power Research Institute estimates of DSM savings in 1990), Hirst (1991) calculates that almost half of electricity demand growth from 1990 to 2010 could be eliminated with an "ambitious" DSM program. This growth would eliminate the need for an estimated 430 500-MW(e) power plants or an equivalent 215 1000-MW(e) nuclear plants (Hirst 1991). A study of three New York utilities found that DSM programs could produce energy savings equalling 10-20 percent of each utility's projected demand in the years 2000 and 2008 (Nagel 1993).

Treating energy conservation measures as resource options received a major stimulus in the form of the EPACT, which amended the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to require each utility to employ up-to-date integrated resource planning as a forecasting tool in cooperation with state regulators and the public. Under Sec. 111 (d)(19), integrated resource planning is defined as "a planning and selection process for new energy resources that evaluates the full ranges of alternatives, including new generating capacity, power purchases, energy conservation and efficiency, cogeneration and district heating and cooling applications, and renewable energy resources, in order to provide adequate and reliable service to its electric customers at the lowest system cost." A major barrier to implementing conservation technologies was the degree to which utilities could recover their costs and earn a profit while reducing growth in electric sales as opposed to selling more power. This barrier was removed under EPACT by ensuring that conservation investments were at least as profitable to utilities as investments in energy generation facilities [Sec. 111(a)(8)].

Environmental impacts of electrical energy conservation programs are not well understood. The Pace report (1991) that surveyed literature assessing indoor air quality impacts of conservation programs, and a 1991 national conference with multiple government, utility, and environmental sponsors that investigated the environmental impacts of utility DSM programs (DSM and the Global Environment) are two noteworthy efforts to address such impacts. Environmental impacts of electrical energy conservation programs should fall into three categories: those resulting from energy demand reduction measures, those resulting from energy supply reduction measures, and those caused by fuel cycle activities.

Energy demand reduction measures are specific procedures or technologies that are undertaken to reduce energy demand. Indoor air quality is considered to be the potential impact of greatest concern from demand reduction technologies. Radon, formaldehyde, and combustion products from cigarette smoking and furnaces are the substances that appear to be the sources of most problems. Another area of concern is mercury used in fluorescent lights and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used in fluorescent light ballasts.

Pace's (1991) examination of the indoor air quality issue reached the general conclusion that, "there are no significant environmental impacts of DSM." Pace went on to argue that "weatherization programs by themselves are not a primary cause of indoor air pollution problems. Where problems do exist, mitigation measures are available." Pace also notes, however, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that indoor air quality can be impaired if energy conservation measures override health considerations. The report also pointed out that a Bonneville Power Administration radon study found that radon was a serious concern in new home construction if mitigation measures were not built in. Cancer cases from radon were estimated to be 335 per 100,000 for baseline homes but as high as 767 cases per 100,000 for new homes with advanced infiltration control but no exhaust or mechanical ventilation.

Current research, according to Pace (1991), indicates that indoor air quality is highly site specific, and the levels of contamination existing before weatherization appear to be a major factor in determining post-weatherization pollution levels. In addition, research indicates that mitigation measures are available to correct problems. It should be noted that no studies have been completed to quantify pollutants associated with weatherization, and more research is called for.

As conservation technologies are implemented and growth in electricity demand is reduced, utilities should expect to build fewer power plants. Cost savings to electric utilities nationwide could be substantial. Hirst (1991) estimates that an ambitious 20 percent conservation-inspired reduction in total demand by 2010 could produce savings in fuel and capital of $370 billion and could reduce utility bills by $61 billion at a total cost to the utilities of $165 billion. Studies for specific utilities have identified savings either in terms of money saved or emissions eliminated. Although a utility might prefer to close a fossil-fired plant that is particularly costly or dirty to operate rather than close a nuclear power plant, the GEIS assumes that conservation technologies produce enough energy savings to permit the closing of a nuclear plant. Should a nuclear plant be closed, the environmental gain, in terms of avoided environmental impacts, would be those discussed in Section 8.3.

The third category of environmental impact of electrical energy conservation programs is the resource recovery, processing, and manufacturing stages associated with producing conservation equipment or material, as well as impacts of disposing of the equipment or material. At this time little assessment has been undertaken of these stages. Resources used in producing conservation technologies are common to many manufacturing processes, and large amounts of resources would not be required. Disposal should involve normal procedures, and some benefits are likely over the long term as troublesome components of current technologies, such as PCBs and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that require special handling, ultimately are eliminated from the waste stream and replaced by more benign components. The amounts of mercury and PCBs in lighting are considered to be small enough and disposal methods sufficiently effective that no adverse health effects should be experienced. Acceleration of CFC releases could occur as some appliances are disposed of earlier than anticipated, but this increase should abate as CFC replacements come on the market.

8.3.15 Imported Electrical Power

Although it is not a technology as such, imported electrical power from Canada or Mexico could constitute an alternative to renewing a nuclear plant's license. Electricity trading has existed between the United States and both countries for many years, and numerous transmission ties exist, particularly with Canada, to facilitate easy exchanges of power. The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) was established in 1968 to enhance electricity reliability between the United States and Canada and a small portion of northern Baja California in Mexico. Today this system operates essentially as a single power grid, albeit with limited power exchanges and varying prices (NERC 1993b).

Electricity trading between the United States and Mexico has been quite small, amounting in 1990 to about 2 billion kWh of power imported by the United States (Texas) and about 600 million kWh of power exported to Mexico [DOE/EIA-0531(90)]. [The annual electric generation of a 1000-MW(e) power plant operating at 60 percent capacity is 5.26 billion kWh; thus, 1990 imports from Mexico amounted to the equivalent of about 40 percent of a 1000-MW(e) plant.]

Electricity trading between the United States and Canada is considerably larger and involves exchanges along almost the entire boundary separating the countries. In 1990 American utilities purchased approximately 22.5 billion kWh of electricity [the equivalent of four 1000-MW(e) plants] and sold about 20.5 billion kWh to Canada. These figures exclude power that is exchanged at no cost between utilities in which power moves freely across the border in one direction and is replaced with an equal amount of power moving free of charge in the other direction [DOE/EIA-0531(90)]. In 1990 the largest provincial exporter of power to the United States was British Columbia, which accounted for about 30 percent of the total. The largest provincial importer of power was Ontario, which accounted for almost two-thirds of the total Canadian imports from the United States.

Environmental impacts of importing electrical power to the United States in place of relicensing American nuclear plants should be similar to impacts of operating a mix of coal, hydropower, and nuclear power plants and the associated transmission lines in the United States. Projected capacity margins--essentially the amount of existing and planned generating capacity available for planned maintenance, unplanned electrical outages, and unforeseen growth in demand--are similar in both the United States and Canada, from which most imported power originates. U.S. capacity margins are projected at 20.6 percent of capacity in 1994 and 17.6 percent of capacity in 2002. Canada's capacity margins are projected to be 20.7 percent in 1994 and 16.3 percent in 2002 (NERC 1993a).

Canada's mix of generating technologies is considerably different from that of the United States, with hydroelectric power constituting over half of its capacity and coal constituting a distant second at about 20 percent. Nuclear power accounts for about 16 percent of Canadian capacity, or about the same as in the United States. Oil and gas combined make up only 10 percent of Canadian capacity, or slightly more than one-third the amount they account for in the United States. This mix of generating technologies is not expected to change appreciably through 2002 (NERC 1993a). Electrical power that is exported to the United States could originate almost anywhere in Canada, because the U.S.-Canadian system is essentially a grid in which power can be transmitted to any location from any location. Since transmission is not free and line losses do occur, however, distance is a factor in determining transmission costs and thus feasibility.

Given the generating mix of Canadian power plants, one would expect that hydroelectric dams would be a principal source of exported power to the United States. This point is particularly true when new dam development on the James Bay in northern Quebec is factored into Canadian capacity. Coal and nuclear plants would provide approximately equal amounts of power that would not total the hydropower contribution to exported power. Thus, if environmental impacts of power imported by the United States are distributed among Canadian power plants according to their percentage of the total, environmental impacts of hydroelectric dams (Section 8.2.5) would be the most prevalent types expected. Hydroelectric development in James Bay has been an important environmental dispute in Canada for quite some time, particularly in its impacts on native groups concerned with hunting, fishing, and gathering activities. Impacts of coal and nuclear plants would be expected to follow similar courses as in the United States, which are described in Sections 8.2.9 and 8.2.12, respectively.

Because Canada is engaged in substantial conservation efforts and has adequate generating capacity, it appears unlikely that a major power plant construction effort would have to be undertaken to meet expected American needs in the next 20 years. Similarly, transmission lines are in place within and between the two countries, and any construction of new lines should be a modest effort at best.


8.4 Termination of Nuclear Power Plant Operations And Decommissioning

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A nuclear power plant that ceases operations and closes permanently must go through a lengthy decommissioning process. In the process certain activities will occur that will have environmental consequences. This section summarizes the impacts of cessation of operations and beginning of decommissioning. The effect of the shutdown of operations is expected to be the same as that of a major scheduled outage, although the effect would be permanent and the loss of employment, local purchases, and most tax revenues would be permanent. All nonradioactive emissions (both airborne and liquid) would cease, as would cooling system impacts, transportation of radioactive materials, and major economic activities. Decommissioning would involve the removal of nuclear components from service and the reduction of residual radioactivity to a level that would allow the eventual release of the property for unrestricted use. Decommissioning does not mean that the plant would be demolished and the site returned to an essentially greenfield status. Rather, decommissioning requires that a nuclear facility be secured in nonoperational storage for a specified period before the next step: dismantlement. The decommissioning methods and their environmental impacts are summarized in Chapter 7. A more detailed evaluation of decommissioning requirements is provided in NUREG-0586.

8.4.1 Land Use

Neither terminating operations nor decommissioning is expected to have any immediate impacts on land use at a plant site, which would generally encompass 80-200 ha (200-500 acres). Because the ultimate objective of decommissioning is to release a site for unrestricted use, the activities that would occur at a site after the eventual completion of decommissioning and dismantlement of the plant would determine the subsequent land-use impacts. For example, it might be feasible to co-locate another power plant on a retired nuclear plant site provided safety requirements could be met and the site were large enough.

8.4.2 Air Quality

Only temporary, localized ambient air quality impacts result from nuclear plant operations. These impacts are not related to power production but instead, to motor vehicle use by plant personnel. Decommissioning activities involving vehicles and gasoline-powered equipment would extend these impacts for a few years past the termination of operations until a plant was in a secure storage configuration (Section 7.3.3). Once storage was in progress and nonsecurity-related activities ceased, these minor air quality impacts would end.

8.4.3 Water Resources

The impacts of nuclear power plant operation on water resources result from consumptive uses (e.g., evaporation associated with the condenser cooling system) and the discharge of chemicals and heat, which affect water quality and biota present in receiving water bodies (Sections 4.2.1 and 4.2.2). These impacts would cease with termination of plant operations. Although liquid releases during decommissioning could result in similar impacts to water quality, they are expected to be temporary and minimal (Section 7.3.4). Standard construction management practices and measures would be taken to minimize worker and public radiation exposure and to protect water quality.

8.4.4 Ecology

When a nuclear plant cooling system ceases operation, an improvement in water quality of the affected water body would be expected to occur; impingement and entrainment effects on aquatic organisms would cease; and drift deposition, icing, and fogging associated with cooling tower operation (if cooling towers are used) would cease. Generally, termination of entrainment and impingement would have positive effects. However, because of compensatory mechanisms that have occurred during the many years of plant operations, the change in aquatic organism populations could be negligible at many sites. Within the cooling water effluent-mixing zone, an aquatic community acclimated to warmer temperatures and biocides will have developed. Some exogenous aquatic organisms may have become established in the zone because of the warmer environment, and these organisms likely would be adversely affected as the water temperature cooled and the original conditions were restored to the water body. Recovery of a community to the normal background composition is a process of variable duration depending on the mobility of the organisms, sources of colonists, rate of growth and maturation of the species, and other factors. In medium-size rivers, most aquatic communities recover within a period of several months, but some groups, such as mollusks, may take more than 2 years to recover (Cairns 1971).

The impacts to a cooling pond that result from plant shutdown depend on whether the pond continues to exist. If cooling ponds were maintained during plant operation by pumping water from another water body, the ponds would revert to a terrestrial system after pumping stopped. Even if ponds are maintained by natural flow, water would probably no longer be impounded. If the ponds continued to exist, the nuclear plant's effects on the ponds described in Section 4.4 would cease. Cooling ponds often remain ice-free during the winter, thereby providing artificial habitat for wildlife. Loss of the heated effluent would change the composition and dynamics of the pond community until it resembled other ponds in the region not used for cooling. This effect is likely to be significant only at Turkey Point (Florida), where the cooling canals serve as habitat for the endangered American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). Changing the temperature in the canal system might adversely affect the crocodile population through loss of that habitat (Gaby et al. 1985, Mazzotti et al.).

Many transmission lines associated with a nuclear power plant would be expected to remain in service even if the plant were shut down. Those lines that are deactivated or removed would no longer produce electromagnetic fields or discharge ozone (Section 4.5). Some rights-of-way would no longer be maintained; therefore, herbicide effects would cease, and forest vegetation and wildlife eventually would predominate in previously cleared portions of corridors (Sections 4.5.3, 4.5.5, and 4.5.6). If lines were removed, they would no longer be collision hazards for birds and would no longer provide perches or nesting sites (Section 4.5.6).

Minimal land disturbance is expected during decommissioning; therefore, no direct impacts to terrestrial biota are expected (Section 7.3.5). Also, measures to protect water quality would prevent toxic effects to aquatic organisms from aqueous effluents.

8.4.5 Radiological Impacts

Radiological impacts to the public from routine existing nuclear plant operations are minimal (Section 4.6). Impacts would be reduced to even lower levels by terminating operations and would be eliminated altogether at the completion of decommissioning. Population radiation doses from decommissioning (from transport of radioactive wastes) would be no greater than 21 person-rem (Section 7.3.1). (A discussion of the Standard International units used in measuring radioactivity and radiation dose is given in Appendix E, Section E.A.3.) Occupational doses would be between 300 and about 1900 person-rem, depending on the decommissioning method (NUREG-0586) (Section 7.3.1). Most of the occupational dose would occur during handling of radioactive materials, and the health risks associated with these dose commitments are within regulatory levels.

8.4.6 Waste Management

Terminating power plant operations eventually would eliminate generation of spent fuel and low-level radioactive waste (LLW). However, decommissioning would require the disposal of up to 19,000 m3 (670,000 ft3) of LLW (see Table 7.5), about 30 percent of the amount of LLW generated during the preceding 40 years of operation. Over 90 percent of the LLW would consist of nuclides with short half-life periods that decay to nonhazardous levels within about 100 years. These can be safely disposed of near the earth's surface (Section 7.3.2). At the conclusion of plant operations, no further LLW would be generated.

8.4.7 Socioeconomics

Termination of plant operations and decommissioning could have significant impacts on the economic structure and tax base of communities surrounding the plant. The magnitude of these impacts would be site-specific, depending on the proportion of total local employment, income, and local revenues provided by the plant. Direct employment at a 1000-MW(e) nuclear plant can easily total 700 people, and indirect jobs in the community can total several hundred more. Rural areas with small populations and a narrow economic base would be most impacted by termination of operations. Some jurisdictions may obtain several million dollars in annual tax revenues from plants. If these revenues constitute a substantial portion of the jurisdiction's revenues, the jurisdiction could have difficulty supporting its preclosure level of public services. Similarly, where plant-related employment is a large portion of total local employment, plant shutdown would result in a significant loss of jobs and income. In rural areas, where replacement jobs are not readily available, a loss of so many direct and indirect jobs could result in the out-migration of former plant employees, leading to population decline. In turn, this population decline could result in increased housing vacancies, decreased property values, diminished ability of the community to maintain existing levels of public services, and possibly some gradual changes in area land-use patterns.

Decommissioning would help mitigate temporarily some of the community-wide adverse effects of terminating operations even if the decommissioning work force were smaller than the operations work force and involved different personnel (Section 7.3.7). If the decommissioning work force were substantially larger than the operational work force in a rural area, the net increase could produce some of the problems of rapid economic growth, followed by the adverse effects of terminating plant operations. In effect, decommissioning activities would perpetuate for several years much of the employment and local spending benefits associated with nuclear plant operations. These benefits would cease with the end of decommissioning.

8.4.8 Aesthetics Resources

The primary positive aesthetic impact associated with decommissioning would be elimination of steam plumes from mechanical or natural-draft cooling towers wherever they are used. Other impacts that could be viewed by many people as positive would result from reduced human activities at the site. Since decommissioning would not necessarily lead to dismantlement, aesthetic impacts associated with plant appearance (in particular, large, natural draft cooling towers) might not change except where uncontaminated facilities would be removed. Visual improvements from removal of transmission lines and corridors would occur in those locations where no new plants were built as replacements for decommissioned nuclear plants.


8.5 References

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Bergesen, Christopher, "Special Report: 1994 New-Plant Construction Survey," Electrical World, 208, 33-38, January 1994.

Bohi, Doug, "Utilities and State Regulators Are Failing to Take Advantage of Emission Allowance Trading, The Electricity Journal, 7, 20-27, March 1994.

Bretz, Elizabeth A, "Special Report: Repowering--How to Get More from Existing Resources to Meet Future Power Generation Needs," Electrical World, 208, 23-28, March 1994.

Brower, Michael, Coal Energy: Renewable Solutions to Environmental Problems, MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1992.

Cairns, J., Jr., et al., "The Recovery of Damaged Streams," ASB Bulletin, 18, 79-106, 1971.

California Energy Commission, Electricity Report, California Energy Commission, Sacramento, California, January, 1993a.

California Energy Commission, The 1992-1993 California Energy Plan, California Energy Commission, Sacramento, California, 1993b.

DeLaquil, Pascal III, et al., "Solar-Thermal Electric Technology," pp. 213-95 in T. B. Johansson et al., eds., Renewable Energy: Sources for Fuels and Electricity, Island Press, Washington, D.C. 1993.

DOE/CH100093-152, Electricity from Biomass: A Development Strategy, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Solar Energy Conversion, Washington, D.C., April 1992.

DOE/EH-0077, Energy Technologies and the Environment: Environmental Information Handbook, U.S. Department of Energy, Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety, and Health, Office of Environmental Analysis, Washington, D.C., 1988.

DOE/EIA-0216(88), U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves, 1988 Annual Report, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., 1989.

DOE/EIA-0383(94), Annual Energy Outlook, 1994: With Projections to 2010, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Office of Integrated Analysis and Forecasting, Washington, D.C., January 1994.

DOE/EIA-0384(91), Annual Review of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., June 1992.

DOE/EIA-0527(90), Assumptions for the Annual Energy Outlook, 1990, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Office of Energy Markets and End Use, Washington, D.C., February 1990.

DOE/EIA-0531(90), Electric Trade in the United States, 1990, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric and Alternate Fuels, Washington, D.C., March 1993.

DOE/EIA-0548(90), Estimates of U.S. Biofuels Consumption, 1990, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., October 1990.

DOE/EIA-0561, Renewable Resources in the U.S. Electricity Supply, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., February 1993.

DOE/EIA-0562, The Changing Structure of the Electric Power Industry 1970-1991, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric, and Alternate Fuels, Washington, D.C. March 1993.

DOE/EIS-0146, Clean Coal Technology Demonstration Program: Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Clean Coal Technology, Washington, D.C., November 1989.

DOE/EP-0026, Energy Technologies and the Environment: Environmental Information Handbook, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., June 1981.

DOE/EP-0093, Energy Technology Characterizations Handbook: Environmental Pollution and Control Factors, 3rd ed., U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., March 1983.

DOE/EV/10154-5, Energy and Land Use, U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection, Safety, and Emergency Preparedness, Office of Environmental Programs, Washington, D.C., December 1981.

DOE/S-0086P, Integrated Analysis Supporting the National Energy Strategy: Methodology, Assumptions and Results, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., 1992.

ECO Northwest, Ltd., Shapiro & Associates, Inc., and Seton, Johnson, and Odell, Inc., Estimating Environmental Costs and Benefits for Five Generating Resources, prepared for Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Ore., March 1986.

Firor, K., et al., "Utility Field Experience with Photovoltaic Systems," pp. 483-512 in T. B. Johansson et al., eds., Renewable Energy: Sources for Fuels and Electricity, Island Press, Washington, D.C. 1993.

Florida Public Service Commission, Review of 1994 Ten-Year Site Plans, Florida Public Service Commission, Tallahassee, Florida, 1994.

Gaby, R., et al., "Ecology of a Population of Crocodylus acutus at a Power Plant Site in Florida," Journal Herpetology, 19, 189-98, 1985.

Grubb, M. J., and N. I. Meyer, "Wind Energy: Resources, Systems and Regional Strategies," pp. 57-212, in T. B. Johansson et al., eds., Renewable Energy: Sources for Fuels and Electricity, Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1993.

Hamrin, J., and N. Rader, Investing in the Future: A Regulator's Guide to Renewables, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Washington, D.C., February 1993.

Hirst, Eric, "Utility DSM Programs Could Cut Electricity Use 20 percent During the Next Two Decades," pp. 27-35, in Proceedings of the Demand-Side Management and the Global Environment Conference, April 22-23, 1991, Arlington, Virginia.

Hohenstein, W. G., and L. L. Wright, "Biomass Energy Production in the United States: An Overview," Biomass and Bioenergy, 6, 161-73, 1994.

Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, Illinois Statewide Electric Utility Plan Part One: 1994-2014, Vol. 1, Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, Springfield, Illinois, January, 1994.

Johnansson, T. B., et. al., eds., Renewable Energy: Sources for Fuels and Electricity, Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1993.

Kelly, H., and C. J. Weinberg, "Utility Strategies for Using Renewables," pp. 1011-70 in T. B. Johansson et al., eds., Renewable Energy: Sources for Fuels and Electricity, Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1993.

Knutson, K. S., and R. L. McMahan, "Retail Power Markets and Wheeling," Public Utilities Fortnightly, 132(12), 11-12, June 15, 1994.

Lamarre, L., "Electricity from Whole Trees," EPRI Journal, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, January/February, 1994.

Loftness, R. L., Energy Handbook, 2nd ed., Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1984.

Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources, The Massachusetts Energy Plan, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Boston, Massachusetts, 1993.

Mazzotti, F. J., et al., "Field and Laboratory Observations on Effects of High Temperature and Salinity on Hatchling Crocodylus acutus," Herpetologica, 42(2), 191-96 (1986).

Michigan Public Service Commission, Michigan Public Service Commission Staff Forecast of Detroit Edison Company's Electricity Sales, Michigan Public Service Commission, Lansing, Michigan, February, 1993a.

Michigan Public Service Commission, Michigan Public Service Commission Staff Report on Consumers Power Company's Integrated Resource Plan, Michigan Public Service Commission, Lansing, Michigan, September, 1993b.

Minnesota Department of Public Service, 1992 Energy Policy and Conservation Report: Transition into the 21st Century, Minnesota Department of Public Service, St. Paul, Minnesota, December, 1992.

Moreira, J. R., and A. D. Poole, "Hydropower and Its Constraints," pp. 73-120 in T. B. Johansson et al., eds., Renewable Energy: Sources for Fuels and Electricity, Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1993.

Nagel, D. J. "A Floodtide of Change: Rapid Change in Technology and Regulation Is Challenging Regulators to Adapt Regulatory Machinery," Fortnightly, 131, 2-23, November 1, 1993.

New York State Energy Office, New York State Energy Plan, Vol. 2: Issue Reports, New York State Energy Office, Albany, October 1994.

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Norton, F. L. IV, and J. W. Gottlieb, "An Option to Beat the System and Stay Competitive," Electrical World, 12-16, August 1993.

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NUREG-1362, Regulatory Analysis for Proposed Rule on Nuclear Power Plant License Renewal, draft report for comment, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, July 1990.

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9. Conclusions

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Table 9.1 summarizes the findings of the GEIS. Ninety-two environmental impacts were analyzed. Most of these were found to be Category 1 issues, which means that the impacts are of small significance at all plants and that no mitigation beyond that already employed at the plants is warranted. Category 2 issues are those for which the significance of the impacts or the appropriateness of mitigation must be determined on a site-specific basis. Because some plants have distinctly different impacts than others, not all conclusions apply to all plants. For this reason, some environmental impacts have Category 1 conclusions for some groups of plants and Category 2 conclusions for other groups of plants. Category definitions are presented in Chapter 1 and in the footnotes to Table 9.1. There remains scientific dispute about the effects of electromagnetic fields from power lines on human health. Consequently, the EIS reaches no conclusion about the significance of that impact. Also, environmental justice was not addressed in this document because guidance on that issue was not available in time to address it in this document.

Table 9.1 Summary of findings on NEPA issues for license renewal of nuclear power plants
Issue Sections Categorya Findingsb
Surface Water Quality, Hydrology, and Use (for all plants)
Impacts of refurbishment on surface water quality 3.4.1 1 SMALL. Impacts are expected to be negligible during refurbishment because best management practices are expected to be employed to control soil erosion and spills.
Impacts of refurbishment on surface water use 3.4.1 1 SMALL. Water use during refurbishment will not increase appreciably or will be reduced during plant outage.
Altered current patterns at intake and discharge structures 4.2.1.2.1
4.3.2.2
4.4.2
1 SMALL. Altered current patterns have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Altered salinity gradients 4.2.1.2.2
4.4.2
1 SMALL. Salinity gradients have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Altered thermal stratification of lakes 4.2.1.2.3
4.4.2.2
1 SMALL. Generally, lake stratification has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Temperature effects on sediment transport capacity 4.2.1.2.3
4.4.2.2
1 SMALL. These effects have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Scouring caused by discharged cooling water 4.2.1.2.3
4.4.2.2
1 SMALL. Scouring has not been found to be a problem at most operating nuclear power plants and has caused only localized effects at a few plants. It is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Discharge of chlorine or other biocides 4.2.1.2.4
4.4.2.2
1 SMALL. Effects are not a concern among regulatory and resource agencies and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Discharge of sanitary wastes and minor chemical spills 4.2.1.2.4
4.4.2.2
1 SMALL. Effects are readily controlled through NPDES permit and periodic modifications, if needed, and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Discharge of metals in waste water 4.2.1.2.4
4.3.2.2
4.4.2.2
1 SMALL. These discharges have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with cooling-tower-based heat dissipation systems and have been satisfactorily mitigated at other plants. They are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Water use conflicts
(plants with once-through cooling systems)
4.2.1.3 1 SMALL. These conflicts have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with once-through heat dissipation systems.
Water use conflicts
(plants with cooling towers and cooling ponds using make-up water from a small river with low flow)
4.3.2.1
4.4.2.1
2 SMALL OR MODERATE. The issue has been a concern at nuclear power plants with cooling ponds and at plants with cooling towers. Impacts on instream and riparian communities near these plants could be of moderate significance in some situations.
Aquatic Ecology (for all plants)
Refurbishment 3.5 1 SMALL. During plant shutdown and refurbishment there will be negligible effects on aquatic biota because of a reduction of entrainment and impingement of organisms or a reduced release of chemicals.
Accumulation of contaminants in sediments or biota 4.2.1.2.4
4.3.3
4.4.3
4.4.2.2
1 SMALL. Accumulation of contaminants has been a concern at a few nuclear power plants but has been satisfactorily mitigated by replacing copper alloy condenser tubes with condenser tubes of another metal. It is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Eutrophication 4.2.1.2.3
4.4.2.2
1 SMALL. Eutrophication has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Entrainment of phytoplankton and zooplankton 4.2.2.1.1
4.3.3
4.4.3
1 SMALL. Entrainment of phytoplankton and zooplankton has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Cold shock 4.2.2.1.5
4.3.3
4.4.3
1 SMALL. Cold shock has been satisfactorily mitigated at operating nuclear plants with once-through cooling systems, has not endangered fish populations or been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with cooling towers or cooling ponds, and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Thermal plume barrier to migrating fish 4.2.2.1.6
4.4.3
1 SMALL. Thermal plumes have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Distribution of aquatic organisms 4.2.2.1.6
4.4.3
1 SMALL. Thermal discharges may have localized effects but are not expected to affect the larger geographical distribution of aquatic organisms.
Premature emergence of aquatic insects 4.2.2.1.7
4.4.3
1 SMALL. Premature emergence has been found to be a localized effect at some operating nuclear power plants but has not been a problem and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Gas supersaturation
(gas bubble disease)
4.2.2.1.8
4.4.3
1 SMALL. Gas supersaturation was a concern at a small number of operating nuclear power plants with once-through cooling systems but has been satisfactorily mitigated. It has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with cooling towers or cooling ponds and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Low dissolved oxygen in the discharge 4.2.2.1.9
4.3.3
4.4.3
1 SMALL. Low dissolved oxygen has been a concern at one nuclear power plant with a once-through cooling system but has been effectively mitigated. It has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with cooling towers or cooling ponds and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Losses from predation, parasitism, and disease among organisms exposed to sublethal stresses 4.2.2.1.10
4.4.3
1 SMALL. These types of losses have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Stimulation of nuisance organisms (e.g., shipworms) 4.2.2.1.11
4.4.3
1 SMALL. Stimulation of nuisance organisms has been satisfactorily mitigated at the single nuclear power plant with a once-through cooling system where previously it was a problem. It has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with cooling towers or cooling ponds and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Aquatic Ecology (for plants with once-through and cooling pond heat dissipation systems)
Entrainment of fish and shellfish in early life stages 4.2.2.1.2
4.4.3
2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. The impacts of entrainment are small at many plants but may be moderate or large at a few plants with once-through and cooling-pond cooling systems. Further, ongoing efforts to restore fish populations may increase the numbers of fish susceptible to intake effects during the license renewal period, so that entrainment studies conducted in support of the original license may no longer be valid.
Impingement of fish and shellfish 4.2.2.1.3
4.4.3
2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. The impacts of impingement are small at many plants but may be moderate or even large at a few plants with once-through and cooling pond cooling systems.
Heat shock 4.2.2.1.4
4.4.3
2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Because of continuing concerns about heat shock and the possible need to modify thermal discharges in response to changing environmental conditions, the impacts may be of moderate or large significance at some plants.
Entrainment of fish and shellfish in early life stages 4.3.3 1 SMALL. Entrainment of fish has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with this type of cooling system and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Impingement of fish and shellfish 4.3.3 1 SMALL. The impingement has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with this type of cooling system and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Heat shock 4.3.3 1 SMALL. Heat shock has not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants with this type of cooling system and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Groundwater Use and Quality
Impacts of refurbishment on groundwater use and quality 3.4.2 1 SMALL. Extensive dewatering during the original construction on some sites will not be repeated during refurbishment on any sites. Any plant wastes produced during refurbishment will be handled in the same manner as in current operating practices and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Groundwater use conflicts (potable and service water; plants that use <100 gpm) 4.8.1.1
4.8.1.2
1 SMALL. Plants using less than 100 gpm are not expected to cause any groundwater use conflicts.
Groundwater use conflicts (potable and service water, and dewatering; plants that use > 100 gpm) 4.8.1.1
4.8.1.2
2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Plants that use more than 100 gpm may cause groundwater use conflicts with nearby groundwater users.
Groundwater use conflicts (plants using cooling towers withdrawing make-up water from a small river) 4.8.1.3 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Water use conflicts may result from surface water withdrawals from small water bodies during low flow conditions which may affect aquifer recharge, especially if other groundwater or upstream surface water users come on line before the time of license renewal.
Groundwater use conflicts (Ranney wells) 4.8.1.4 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Ranney wells can result in potential groundwater depression beyond the site boundary. Impacts of large groundwater withdrawal for cooling tower makeup at nuclear power plants using Ranney wells must be evaluated at the time of application for license renewal.
Groundwater quality degradation (Ranney wells) 4.8.2.2 1 SMALL. Groundwater quality at river sites may be degraded by induced infiltration of poor-quality river water into an aquifer that supplies large quantities of reactor cooling water. However, the lower quality infiltrating water would not preclude the current uses of groundwater and is not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Groundwater quality degradation (saltwater intrusion) 4.8.2.1 1 SMALL. Nuclear power plants do not contribute significantly to saltwater intrusion.
Groundwater quality degradation (cooling ponds in salt marshes) 4.8.3 1 SMALL. Sites with closed-cycle cooling ponds may degrade groundwater quality. Because water in salt marshes is brackish, this is not a concern for plants located in salt marshes.
Groundwater quality degradation (cooling ponds at inland sites) 4.8.3 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Sites with closed-cycle cooling ponds may degrade groundwater quality. For plants located inland, the quality of the groundwater in the vicinity of the ponds must be shown to be adequate to allow continuation of current uses.
Terrestrial Resources
Refurbishment impacts 3.6 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Refurbishment impacts are insignificant if no loss of important plant and animal habitat occurs. However, it cannot be known whether important plant and animal communities may be affected until the specific proposal is presented with the license renewal application.
Cooling tower impacts on crops and ornamental vegetation 4.3.4 1 SMALL. Impacts from salt drift, icing, fogging, or increased humidity associated with cooling tower operation have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Cooling tower impacts on native plants 4.3.5.1 1 SMALL. Impacts from salt drift, icing, fogging, or increased humidity associated with cooling tower operation have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Bird collisions with cooling towers 4.3.5.2 1 SMALL. These collisions have not been found to be a problem at operating nuclear power plants and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Cooling pond impacts on terrestrial resources 4.4.4 1 SMALL. Impacts of cooling ponds on terrestrial ecological resources are considered to be of small significance at all sites.
Power line right-of-way management (cutting and herbicide application) 4.5.6.1 1 SMALL. The impacts of right-of-way maintenance on wildlife are expected to be of small significance at all sites.
Bird collision with power lines 4.5.6.2 1 SMALL. Impacts are expected to be of small significance at all sites.
Impacts of electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna (plants, agricultural crops, honeybees, wildlife, livestock) 4.5.6.3 1 SMALL. No significant impacts of electromagnetic fields on terrestrial flora and fauna have been identified. Such effects are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term.
Floodplains and wetland on power line right of way 4.5.7 1 SMALL. Periodic vegetation control is necessary in forested wetlands underneath power lines and can be achieved with minimal damage to the wetland. No significant impact is expected at any nuclear power plant during the license renewal term.
Threatened or Endangered Species (for all plants)
Threatened or endangered species 3.9
4.1
2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Generally, plant refurbishment and continued operation are not expected to adversely affect threatened or endangered species. However, consultation with appropriate agencies would be needed at the time of license renewal to determine whether threatened or endangered species are present and whether they would be adversely affected.
Air Quality
Air quality during refurbishment (non-attainment and maintenance areas) 3.3 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Air quality impacts from plant refurbishment associated with license renewal are expected to be small. However, vehicle exhaust emissions could be cause for concern at locations in or near nonattainment or maintenance areas. The significance of the potential impact cannot be determined without considering the compliance status of each site and the numbers of workers expected to be employed during the outage.
Air quality effects of transmission lines 4.5.2 1 SMALL. Production of ozone and oxides of nitrogen is insignificant and does not contribute measurably to ambient levels of these gases.
Land Use
On-site land use 3.2 1 SMALL. Projected on-site land use changes would require a small fraction of any nuclear power plant site and would involve land that is controlled by the applicant.
Power line right-of-ways 4.5.3 1 SMALL. Ongoing uses of power line right-of-ways would continue with no change in restrictions. The effects of these restrictions are of small significance.
Human Health
Radiation exposures to the public during refurbishment 3.8.1 1 SMALL. During refurbishment, the gaseous effluents would result in doses that are similar to those from current operation. Applicable regulatory dose limits to the public are not expected to be exceeded.
Occupational radiation exposures during refurbishment 3.8.2 1 SMALL. Occupational doses from refurbishment are expected to be within the range of annual average collective doses experienced for pressurized-water reactors and boiling-water reactors. Occupational mortality risks from all causes including radiation is in the mid-range for industrial settings.
Microbiological organisms (occupational health) 4.3.6 1 SMALL. Occupational health impacts are expected to be controlled by continued application of accepted industrial hygiene practices to minimize worker exposures.
scope="row"Microbiological organisms (public health) (plants using lakes or canals, or cooling towers or cooling ponds that discharge to a small river) 4.3.6 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. These organisms are not expected to be a problem at most operating plants except possibly at plants using cooling ponds, lakes, or canals that discharge to small rivers. Without site-specific data, it is not possible to predict the effects generically.
Noise 4.3.7 1 SMALL. Noise has not been found to be a problem at operating plants and is not expected to be a problem at any plant during the license renewal term.
Electromagnetic fields, acute effects (electric shock) 4.5.4.1 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Electrical shock resulting from direct access to energized conductors or from induced charges in metallic structures have not been found to be a problem at most operating plants and are not expected to be a problem during the license renewal term. However, without review of each nuclear plant's transmission line conformance with National Electric Safety Code criteria, it is not possible to determine the significance of the electric shock potential.
Electromagnetic fields, chronic effects 4.5.4.2 NAc UNCERTAIN. Biological and physical studies of 60-Hz electromagnetic fields have not found consistent evidence linking harmful effects with field exposures. However, because the state of the science is currently inadequate, no generic conclusion on human health impacts is possible.c
Radiation exposures to public (license renewal term) 4.6.2 1 SMALL. Radiation doses to the public will continue at current levels associated with normal operations.
Occupational radiation exposures (license renewal term) 4.6.3 1 SMALL. Projected maximum occupational doses during the license renewal term are within the range of doses recently experienced during normal operations and normal maintenance outages, and would be well below regulatory limits.
Socioeconomics
Housing impacts 3.7.2
4.7.1
2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Housing impacts are expected to be of small significance at plants located in a medium or high population area and not in an area where growth control measures that limit housing development are in effect. Moderate or large housing impacts of the work force associated with refurbishment may be associated with plants located in sparsely populated areas or in areas with growth control measures that limit housing development.
Public services: public safety, social services, and tourism and recreation 3.7.4
3.7.4.3
3.7.4.4
3.7.4.6
4.7.3
4.7.3.3
4.7.3.4
4.7.3.6
1 SMALL. Impacts to public safety, social services, and tourism and recreation are expected to be of small significance at all sites.
Public services: public utilities 3.7.4.5
4.7.3.5
2 SMALL OR MODERATE. An increased problem with water shortages at some sites may lead to impacts of moderate significance on public water supply availability.
Public services, education
(refurbishment)
3.7.4.1 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Most sites would experience impacts of small significance but larger impacts are possible depending on site- and project-specific factors.
Public services, education
(license renewal term)
4.7.3.1 1 SMALL. Only impacts of small significance are expected.
Offsite land use
(refurbishment)
3.7.5 2 SMALL OR MODERATE. Impacts may be of moderate significance at plants in low population areas.
Offsite land use
(license renewal term)
4.7.4 2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Significant changes in land use may be associated with population and tax revenue changes resulting from license renewal.
Public services, transportation 3.7.4.2
4.7.3.2
2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Transportation impacts are generally expected to be of small significance. However, the increase in traffic associated with the additional workers and the local road and traffic control conditions may lead to impacts of moderate or large significance at some sites.
Historic and archaeological resources 3.7.7
4.7.7
2 SMALL, MODERATE, OR LARGE. Generally, plant refurbishment and continued operation are expected to have no more than small adverse impacts on historic and archaeological resources. However, the National Historic Preservation Act requires the Federal agency to consult with the State Historic Preservation Officer to determine whether there are properties present that require protection.
Aesthetic impacts
(refurbishment)
3.7.8 1 SMALL. No significant impacts are expected during refurbishment.
Aesthetic impacts
(license renewal term)
4.7.6 1 SMALL. No significant impacts are expected during the license renewal term.
Aesthetic impacts of transmission lines
(license renewal term)
4.5.8 1 SMALL. No significant impacts are expected during the license renewal term.
Postulated Accidents
Design basis accidents 5.3.2
5.5.1
1 SMALL. The NRC staff has concluded that the environmental impacts of design basis accidents are of small significance for all plants.
Severe accidents 5.3.3
5.3.3.2
5.3.3.3
5.3.3.4
5.3.3.5
5.4
5.5.2
2 SMALL. The probability weighted consequences of atmospheric releases, fallout onto open bodies of water, releases to ground water, and societal and economic impacts from severe accidents are small for all plants. However, alternatives to mitigate severe accidents must be considered for all plants that have not considered such alternatives.
Uranium Fuel Cycle and Waste Management
Nonradiological waste   1 SMALL. No changes to generating systems are anticipated for license renewal. Facilities and procedures are in place to ensure continued proper handling and disposal at all plants.
Low-level waste storage and disposal   1 SMALL. The comprehensive regulatory controls that are in place and the low public doses being achieved at reactors ensure that the radiological impacts to the environment will remain small during the term of a renewed license. The maximum additional on-site land that may be required for low-level waste storage during the term of a renewed license and associated impacts will be small. Nonradiological impacts on air and water will be negligible. The radiological and nonradiological environmental impacts of long-term disposal of low-level waste from any individual plant at licensed sites are small. In addition, the Commission concludes that there is reasonable assurance that sufficient low-level waste disposal capacity will be made available when needed for facilities to be decommissioned consistent with NRC decommissioning requirements.
Mixed waste storage and disposal   1 SMALL. The comprehensive regulatory controls and the facilities and procedures that are in place ensure proper handling and storage, as well as negligible doses and exposure to toxic materials for the public and the environment at all plants. License renewal will not increase the small, continuing risk to human health and the environment posed by mixed waste at all plants. The radiological and nonradiological environmental impacts of long-term disposal of mixed waste from any individual plant at licensed sites are small. In addition, the Commission concludes that there is reasonable assurance that sufficient mixed waste disposal capacity will be made available when needed for facilities to be decommissioned consistent with NRC decommissioning requirements.
On-site spent fuel   1 SMALL. The expected increase in the volume of spent fuel from an additional 20 years of operation can be safely accommodated on site with small environmental effects through dry or pool storage at all plants if a permanent repository or monitored retrievable storage is not available.
Transportation   2 Table S-4 of 10 CFR 51 contains an assessment of impact parameters to be used in evaluating transportation effects in each case.
Decommissioning
Radiation doses 7.3.1
7.4
1 SMALL. Doses to the public will be well below applicable regulatory standards regardless of which decommissioning method is used. Occupational doses would increase no more than 1 man-rem caused by buildup of long-lived radionuclides during the license renewal term.
Waste management 7.3.2
7.4
1 SMALL. Decommissioning at the end of a 20-year license renewal period would generate no more solid wastes than at the end of the current license term. No increase in the quantities of Class C or greater than Class C wastes would be expected.
Air quality 7.3.3
7.4
1 SMALL. Air quality impacts of decommissioning are expected to be negligible either at the end of the current operating term or at the end of the license renewal term.
Water quality 7.3.4
7.4
1 SMALL. The potential for significant water quality impacts from erosion or spills is no greater whether decommissioning occurs after a 20-year license renewal period or after the original 40-year operation period, and measures are readily available to avoid such impacts.
Ecological resources 7.3.5
7.4
  SMALL. Decommissioning after either the initial operating period or after a 20-year license renewal period is not expected to have any direct ecological impacts.
Socioeconomic impacts 7.3.7
7.4
1 SMALL. Decommissioning would have some short-term socioeconomic impacts. The impacts would not be increased by delaying decommissioning until the end of a 20-year relicense period, but they might be decreased by population and economic growth.
Environmental Justice
Environmental justice NAd NAd NONE. The need for and content of an analysis of environmental justice will be addressed in plant-specific reviews.

aThe numerical entries in this column are based on the following category definitions:

Category 1: For the issue, the analysis reported in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement has shown:

(1) The environmental impacts associated with the issue have been determined to apply either to all plants or, for some issues, to plants having a specific type of cooling system or other specified plant or site characteristics;

(2) A single significance level (i.e., small, moderate, or large) has been assigned to the impacts (except for collective off-site radiological impacts from the fuel cycle and from high-level waste and spent-fuel disposal); and

(3) Mitigation of adverse impacts associated with the issue has been considered in the analysis and it has been determined that additional plant-specific mitigation measures are likely not to be sufficiently beneficial to warrant implementation.

The generic analysis of the issue may be adopted in each plant-specific review.

Category 2: For the issue, the analysis reported in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement has shown that one or more of the criteria of Category 1 can not be met, and therefore additional plant-specific review is required.

bThe impact findings in this column are based on the definitions of three significant levels. Unless the significance level is identified as beneficial, the impact is adverse, or in

the case of "small," may be negligible. The definitions of significance follow:

SMALL--For the issue, environmental effects are not detectable or are so minor that they will neither destabilize nor noticeably alter any important attribute of the resource. For the purposes of assessing radiological impacts, the Commission has concluded that those impacts that do not exceed permissible levels in the Commission's regulations are considered small as the term is used in this table.
MODERATE--For the issue, environmental effects are sufficient to alter noticeably, but not to destabilize, important attributes of the resource.
LARGE--For the issue, environmental effects are clearly noticeable and are sufficient to destabilize important attributes of the resource.

For issues where probability is a key consideration (i.e. accident consequences), probability was a factor in determining significance.

cNA (not applicable). Scientific evidence on the chronic biological effects on humans from exposure to transmission line electric and magnetic fields is inconclusive. If the Commission finds that a consensus has been reached by appropriate Federal health agencies that there are adverse health effects, the Commission will require applicants to submit plant-specific reviews of these health effects.

dNA (not applicable). Environmental justice is not addressed in the GEIS because Executive Order 12898 issued on February 11, 1994, and implementation guidance were not available prior to completion of this report.


10. List of Preparers

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D. C. Agouridis, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 36 years' experience in environmental assessment.

C. R. Boston, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Chemistry, Northwestern University; B.S., Chemistry, Ohio University; 21 years' experience in environmental assessment.

R. B. Braid, Jr., Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Political Science, University of Tennessee; M.S., Political Science, The University of Tennessee; B.S., Political Science, Lambuth College; 19 years' experience in environmental assessment.

G. F. Cada, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Zoology, University of Nebraska; M.S., Zoology, Colorado State University; B.S., Zoology, University of Nebraska; 17 years' experience in environmental assessment.

A. W. Campbell, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.S., Biology, Wilkes College; B.S., Biology, Wilkes College; 14 years' experience in environmental assessment.

J. B. Cannon, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, California Institute of Technology; M.S., Mechanical Engineering, California Institute of Technology; B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Tuskegee Institute; 19 years' experience in environmental assessment.

S. W. Christensen, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Ecology, Yale University; MPHIL, Ecology, Yale University; B.A., Biology, Amherst College; 21 years' experience in environmental assessment.

D. P. Cleary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.A., Economics, University of Florida; graduate studies in Natural Resource Economics and Environmental Policy; 32 years' experience in environmental assessment.

K. S. Dragonette, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.S. Health Physics, Vanderbilt University; 30 years' experience in health physics and the regulation of nuclear materials.

C. E. Easterly, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Physics (minor in Health Physics), University of Tennessee; B.S., Physics, Mississippi State University; 22 years' experience in environmental assessment.

S. E. Feld, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Ph.D., University of Rhode Island, Resource Economics, Environmental and Economic Assessments, 20 years' experience in environmental assessment.

D. L. Feldman, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Political Science, University of Missouri; M.A., Political Science, University of Missouri; B.A., Political Science, Kent State University; 2 years' experience in environmental assessment.

M. A. Finklestein, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, J.D., Brooklyn Law School, B.A., Biology/Religious Studies, University of Rochester; 2 years' experience in environmental assessment.

G. G. Gears, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (currently employed by the U.S. Department of Energy), M.S., Biology/System Ecology, the University of Florida; Terrestrial Ecology/Land Use, Air Quality, Agricultural/Vegetation, Norse, Transmission Systems, Floodplains/Wetlands, SAMDAs; 16 years' experience in environmental assessment.

C. W. Hagan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.A., English, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; B.S., Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; 13 years' experience in technical writing.

J. J. Hayes, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.S., Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University; Radiological Effects (Occupational and Public Exposures), Postulated Accidents (Health Effects); 21 years' experience in radiological assessment of release from nuclear power plants.

M. Kaltman, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.C.P., University of Pennsylvania, Urban Planning; 29 years' experience in socioeconomic and environmental assessment.

T. L. King, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University; Postulated Accidents; 27 years' experience in design and safety of nuclear reactor components and systems.

R. G. Knudson, Science and Engineering Associates, Inc., B.S., Nuclear Engineering, University of New Mexico; 12 years' experience in nuclear engineering.

R. L. Kroodsma, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Zoology, North Dakota State University; M.S., Zoology, North Dakota State University; B.A., Biology, Hope College; 20 years' experience in environmental assessment.

R. R. Lee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.S., Geology, Temple University; B.S., Geology, Temple University; 11 years' experience in environmental assessment.

M. A. Linn, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.S., B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Tennessee; 14 years' experience in nuclear safety analysis.

L. Lois, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Ph.D, Nuclear Engineering, Columbia University; SAMDAs; 29 years' experience in nuclear engineering.

J. Lynch, Science and Engineering Associates, Inc., B.S., Mathematics/Statistics, Purdue University; 33 years' experience in mathematics.

L. N. Mann, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.S., Ecology, University of Tennessee; B.S., Botany, University of Tennessee; 24 years' experience in ecological research and assessment.

M. T. Masnik, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Ph.D., Zoology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Aquatic Ecology, Decommissioning, Aquatic Microorganisms and Human Health; 20 years' experience in aquatic ecology.

L. N. McCold, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Oregon State University; B.S., Physics, Oregon State University; 15 years' experience in environmental assessment.

R. B. McLean, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Marine Biology, Florida State University; B.A., Biology, Florida State University; 20 years' experience in environmental assessment.

R. L. Miller, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.S., Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University; B.S., Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University; 13 years' experience in environmental assessment.

J. A. Mitchell, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, B.A., Chemistry, Connecticut College; 39 years' experience in reactor physics and severe accident source team research.

J. P. Moulton, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.B.A., Averett College; B.S., Electrical Engineering, U.S. Naval Academy; 10 years' experience in nuclear power operations; 5 years' experience in environmental analysis.

G. A. Murphy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Montana State University; 28 years' experience in nuclear power plant operations and analysis.

J. F. Munro, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Public Administration/Environmental Planning, University of California at Los Angeles; M.A., Political Science, University of California at Los Angeles; B.A., Political Science, University of California at Santa Barbara; 12 years' experience in environmental planning.

H. H. Newsome, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, J.D., University of Virginia; B.A., Public Policy, Duke University; 3 years' experience in counseling on NEPA law.

R. L. Pedersen, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.S., Radiological Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Public Health; 20 years' experience in health physics.

H. T. Peterson, Jr., U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (currently employed by the U.S. Department of Energy), M.N.E., Nuclear Engineering--Radiological Health, New York University; Certified by American Board of Health Physics; 35 years' experience in health physics.

H. D. Quarles, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, J.D., Widener University School of Law; Ph.D., Environmental Science, University of Virginia; M.S., Environmental Science, University of Virginia; B.S., Biology, Hampden-Sydney; 20 years' experience in environmental assessment.

A. K. Roecklein, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.S., Physics, Vanderbilt; 30 years' experience in health physics.

S. Ross, Science and Engineering Associates, Inc., M.S., Nuclear Engineering, University of New Mexico; B.S., Nuclear Engineering, University of New Mexico; 10 years' experience in nuclear engineering.

R. M. Rush, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Analytical Chemistry, University of Virginia; M.S., Analytical Chemistry, University of Virginia; B.S., Chemistry, Princeton University; 21 years' experience in environmental assessment.

R. B. Samworth, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Ph.D, Civil Engineering, Cornell University; Aquatic Ecology, Surface and Groundwater Use and Quality; 28 years' experience in environmental engineering and environmental assessment.

J. W. Saulsbury, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.S., Planning, University of Tennessee; B.A., History, University of Tennessee; 7 years' experience in environmental assessment.

S. M. Schexnayder, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, B.A., English, Nicholls State University; 6 years' experience in environmental assessment.

M. Schweitzer, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, M.S., Urban Planning, University of Tennessee; B.A., Psychology, University of Michigan; 16 years' experience in environmental assessment.

F. S. Sciacca, Science and Engineering Associates, Inc., M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State University; B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State University; 30 years' experience in engineering.

A. W. Serkiz, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Clarkson University; 38 years' experience in mechanical engineering, nuclear reactor safety issue resolution, and project management.

W. P. Staub, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Geotechnical Engineering, Iowa State University; M.S., Geology, Washington University; B.S., Geological Engineering, Washington University; 18 years' experience in environmental assessment.

V. R. Tolbert, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Ecology, University of Tennessee; M.S., Ecology, University of Tennessee; B.S., Biology, East Tennessee State University; 16 years' experience in environmental assessment.

S. P. Turel, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, M.B.A., University of Pittsburg; B.S., Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University; 30 years' experience in safeguards and health physics.

R. Walsh, Science and Engineering Associates, Inc., M.S., Mathematics, San Diego State College; B.S., Physics, California Institute of Technology; 31 years' experience in mathematics.

J. S. Watson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., M.S., B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Tennessee; 36 years' experience in chemical processing development for energy systems.

M. W. Yambert, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, B.E.S.M, Georgia Institute of Technology; 10 years' experience in applied computer modeling.

E. A. Zeighami, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Ph.D., Epidemiology, University of Oklahoma; 22 years' experience in epidemiology.

G. L. Zigler, Science and Engineering Associates, Inc., M.S., Nuclear Engineering, U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology; B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of New Mexico; 28 years' experience in nuclear engineering.

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